Huntlee back in Court today – November 4th 2011

SWEETWATER ACTION GROUP RETURNS TO THE COURTS

Members of the Sweetwater Action Group (SWAG) from Branxton in the Hunter Valley will travel to the the Supreme Court in Sydney on Friday morning to argue their case against an appeal to reinstate the Huntlee proposal.

The Huntlee proposal is NSWs largest residential development comprising some 7500 housing lots and 200ha of mixed commercially and industrially zoned land.

The proposed site, 60 km west of Newcastle, was ranked last on a list of potential development sites drawn up by the Department of Planning in 2005. Controversially, and despite the lowest ranking, then Planning Minister Frank Sartor included the site in the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy. The proponent was Hardie Holdings which the ABC TV program 4Corners reported as donating $455,000 to the NSW ALP between 2001 and 2007.

Despite two approvals by two different Ministers the Huntlee proposal has been overturned twice in the Land and Environment Court.

SWAG President Chris Parker said ‘This time the developer is taking it to the Supreme Court of Appeal.  As ever this is a story of David and Goliath. As David we always have to struggle to match the resources and size of Goliath. However we will do what we have always done, we will stick to the facts and argue that the proposal was not properly approved.’

‘What ever the legal arguments that are put in court, the law does not allow us to argue that this proposal is enormously damaging to the environment.’ said Mr Parker.  ‘Huntlee will place at real risk of extinction a critically endangered plant (persoonia pauciflora) found nowhere else in the world.’

‘It will also bulldoze hundreds of hectares of Endangered woodlands. And to cap it off the proposal represents the epitome of urban sprawl seeking to place 20,000 people 50 kilometres away from the employment centre of Newcastle and even further away from the mining centres in the Upper Hunter.’

‘Whichever way you look at it Huntlee should never have been approved.’ Mr Parker said ‘Yet the law  only allows us to challenge the procedural aspects of the approval.’

‘Whatever the outcome I am very proud to stand up as a representative of the local community at Branxton and North Rothbury who have had this mega proposal for a new city thrust upon them.’

Chris Parker   0434 332217

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