TRRA Update, March 2023
Port Stephens Council issues
Nelson Bay high-rise approved
TRRA spoke in public access at the 28 February Council meeting against the ‘overheight’ DA for an large apartment building at 11-15 Church St, Nelson Bay.
Unfortunately, with only 6 of the 10 Councillors participating, the DA was approved (3 each, with the Mayor’s casting vote in favour decisive). A TRRA statement about this decision is now on the TRRA website.
Success in improving key Council policies
Agenda papers for the next (14 March) Council meeting include some important policies, where some changes have been made in response to submissions from TRRA and other EcoNetwork affiliates. In most cases the Policies are significantly improved.
- Tree Management chapter of the DCP: Some minor improvements have been made but our main suggestions have either been rejected or deferred to future reviews
- Tree Vandalism Policy: This Policy has been significantly strengthened, largely in response to the four submissions, including from TRRA and two other EcoNetwork affiliate groups.
- Climate Change Policy: Several welcome changes have been made in response to suggestions from Climate Action Port Stephens, supported by TRRA. This Policy is now significantly improved.
- Environment Policy: Several welcome changes have been made in response the joint submission from TRRA and EcoNetwork, in addition to the significant improvements already proposed.
A new Media Liaison Policy is proposed and will go on exhibition – we will comment in due course. A revised Legislative Compliance Policy will also be exhibited – this addresses compliance by Councillors and Council officers, not the wider issue of Council’s regulatory role in relation to compliance by the community with legal requirements.
Council’s proposed rate rise of 9.5% for each of the next three years was submitted to iPART for approval, and iPART sought public comment during February. A final decision will be announced in May.
Welcome changes to DA publicity
TRRA welcomes the adoption by Council at its 14 February meeting of a revised Development Application (DA) awareness program. This includes a new ‘e-News’ service and extension of the recently re-instated press advertising of DAs from the Examiner to the News of the Area.
Council staff instability continues
TRRA is very concerned about continued high turnover of staff in the Natural Systems section of Council – for example there have been 4 Coordinators (the section Head) in two years, and other important positions remain unfilled.
Anna Bay Aircraft Facility goes to Court
News just in 21 March 2023 – the conciliation process has terminated and the Court has fixed a timetable for hearing these proceedings.The hearing will commence on site at 10:30am on 1 August 2023, and thereafter continue in Court.
On 13 March, the Land and Environment Court Commissioner heard from 7 objectors at the site of the proposed heliport on Nelson Bay Road, Anna Bay. TRRA and local residents voiced major concerns about noise, traffic and proximity to the cemetery. A representative of the Department of Defence also voiced their strong opposition to major helicopter operations to and from this location, based on concerns about interference with the tens of thousands of annual flight movements at Williamtown.
The Commissioner then conducted a closed site visit with the parties – the applicant, Council and their lawyers – before going into a ‘Conciliation Conference’ to see if agreement could be reached. As this seems unlikely, the appeal may proceed to a full court hearing later this year.
If you missed the original article and update, you can read them here:
Anna Bay’s Helipad or Heliport – what’s the difference? – EcoUpdate February 2022
Anna Bay Heliport heads to court –TRRA January 2023 Update
NSW State Government issues
Williamtown employment area
The State Government’s proposals for a Special Activation Precinct (SAP) adjacent to the airport have been scaled back, and the entire business case may be in doubt, largely due to the cost of drainage and infrastructure works required on this flood prone and contaminated land. It is now clear that the main beneficiaries of any land acquisition will be speculator developers, with only a small number of families affected by the PFAS contamination having any prospect of a ‘buy-out’ offer.
Salt Ash sand mine
TRRA made a submission on a proposed new ‘wet-mine’ at Salt Ash. The multinational firm Holcim propose dredging sand from below the water table on the site of an existing ‘above ground’ sand mine off Janet Parade. The proposal has major implications for groundwater – it is opposed by Hunter Water – and will also more than double heavy truck movements from the site, adding to a growing cumulative problem along Nelson Bay Road and other routes. Read the full submission.
Work has commenced on Gan Gan Road at and near the junction with Nelson Bay Road near the Council depot. It apparently involves significant tree clearing – unfortunately detail is lacking and as usual with State ‘Blackspot’ funding there has been no opportunity for proper consultation. TRRA has repeated its request to move the 80/60kph speed limit change location to the west of the junction, but it seems unlikely this will be considered as part of these works.
We understand that the State Government has announced that it no longer proposes a new link road to Fingal Bay, instead opting for improvements to the existing road network – details are awaited.
Changes to traffic management in Nelson Bay town centre are proposed to commence in April – they include speed limit reductions, extending the shared zone from Magnus St across the intersection with Yacaaba St, safety improvements at two roundabouts and moving the pedestrian crossing at Woolworths to the east.