HEZ – Industry Site in the Hot Zone
Great article from Damon Cronshaw reminding us of Cessnock Council unacceptable behaviour in rezoning this site in the first place, and the complete misunderstanding by Clr Maybury in thinking there is no need for further studies or actions to potect the threatened species on site.
The Tomalpin Woodlands (HEZ) are the most bodiverse on the floor of the Hunter Valley and a nationally significant site.
It just goes to show that if unsuitable land is rezoned, then no matter how many donations are made (in this case at least $100,000 to the NSW ALP) or how much hospitality is given out (cocktail parties etc) the site is still unsuitable for development.
Newcastle Herald 18 September 2013
by Damon Cronshaw
Conflict over the controversial Hunter Economic Zone has reignited, with Cessnock City Council staff recommending refusal of a development application.
The application for a steel fabrication workshop in Weston is expected to be hotly debated at the Council today.
The plan would employ up to 55 people but a council report said it would have a ‘significant effect on threatened species or their habitats’.
Greens Councillor James Ryan said the report was “saying we don’t have the legal power to approve this.”
“Its going to be test of Cessnock City Council and whether they are stuck in the old days where they rammed HEZ through.’ said Cr Ryan.
‘There’s a bucket load of threatened species and environmental issues out there and they need a species impact statement.’
ALP Councillor Jeff Maybury wants support from councillors to overule staff and approve the development.
‘All those so-called endangered species were recognised and covered in the first studies
they did.’ Cr Maybury said. ‘Why do it again?’
ALP Mayor Bob Pynsent said it was ‘exciting a DA is coming to HEZ.’
‘We need the site developed – we need the employment.’ he said.
The state government once predicted the 870-hectare site would provide more than 10,000 jobs and attract $2 billion in investment.
But it was plagued with financial collapse, political donations conroversy, a parliamentary inquiry and environmental battles.
Cr Ryan said the iniquiry exposed the council appointed an executive planner in 2001 funded by the site’s developer Hardie Holdings.
The planners job was to ensure the site’s rezoning was approved.
‘This site was tainted rig
ht from the beginning,’ Cr Ryan said.