Rail corridor land grab

Lismore councillor Simon Clough is warning of a “back door grab for the rail corridor” by the state government.

Cr Clough said he was alerted to the situation at a briefing on the draft Lismore LEP (Local Environment Plan) when the planner mentioned that infrastructure zoning was to be changed to be the same as adjoining lands.

“We don’t have an option on this,” Cr Clough said, as it has come as a directive from the NSW Department of Planning and effectively takes the issue out of council’s hands.

The re-zoning would mean prime land such as the disused railway stations at Bangalow and Byron Bay could be re-zoned ‘industrial’ and Cr Clough said it would then be a simple matter for the state government to sell it off. But before the rail corridor could be sold there would still need to be an act of parliament such as the failed Transport Administration Amendment Bill (known as the Rail Trail bill) that was introduced by Transport Minister David Campbell last year. The bill was withdrawn after sustained community opposition and the government failed get the support of the minor parties in the upper house.

The State Department of Planning justifies the need for the re-zoning by saying “this approach avoids the need for spot rezonings when the infrastructure use ceases or is downsized in the future. It is preferable that the land use zone be the same as the adjacent zoning, so that future uses are compatible with existing surrounding uses.”

But Cr Clough described this as “weasel words”.

“What they are actually saying is ‘we want more flexibility so when anything changes we can sell off the corridors’. All it will take is giving the Shooters Party another shooting range in a National Park and they will get the numbers,” he said.

Cr Clough said local government should be working with state and federal representatives to demand “an effective and reasonably priced rail service along the existing corridor.”

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