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Nightmare 'Nightcap' development approved in Tweed Shire

Out of six councillors, only two voted against the DA in spite of massive opposition from local residents who had a long list of complaints. They were Councillor Katie Milne and Barry Longland. Over 500 submissions were received by council. In the Land and Environment Court hearing, 100 people spoke against it and only 1 for it. In spite of this the Commissioner approved it.

Source: "Nightcap Village is Go - Tweed Daily News, 6 May 2009

Cr Katie Milne

Cr Barry Longland

Although an Environmental Impact Statement was done some time ago, it was shelved. The advice given in the EIS was not acted upon by the developer, and instead a forest of rare and endangered species of trees (including teak and red cedar) where koalas once lived was clearcut. This clearcutting was done before the DA was approved. I wonder what the Ombudsman would say about all this?

Ironically, the four councillors who voted in favour of the DA all stood on a green platform at the last elections.

Local residents spoke eloquently and with great passion enumerating the many reasons why they opposed it. The main argument was the size of the village for the location. How ludicrous to have 130 three storey units, 250 houses, a 100-bed backpacker and 100-bed motel and 50 assorted shops in a remote area with a pub.

By far the most important concern was the very real possibility of effluent going into the Tweed River which is the town's drinking water, in the event of heavy rainfall and a failed filtration system. This would be a key issue not only for humans but for endangered species such as the Giant Barred frog who live in the vicinity.

Cr Joan van

Cr Dot Holdom

Cr Warren

Cr Kevin Skinner

Cr Phil

How unrealistic to restrict future Nightcap residents to only half the amount of water that people in the town of Murwillumbah use. This will force the council to truck water in to parched residents at Nightcap village and who will pay for this? Ratepayers, people who are already unhappy with recent rate increases.

A predicted 4,500 extra car movements per day on narrow, winding, country roads will slow down locals’ day, make it even more dangerous for them to enter Kyogle Road from rural properties whose entry may not be obvious, increase road kill, road accidents, vehicle pollution and in general detract from the village atmosphere Uki and local residents so enjoy. Locals can kiss goodbye their magnificent view of the stars illuminating a pitch-black night sky.

Not only was no EIS study presented, but also no aboriginal heritage study. According to a local water diviner, Peter Symmons, there is an aboriginal curse on the land due to a massacre that occurred some centuries ago that whoever lives on the land will receive the curse.

The four councillors who voted in favour of the DA - Dot Holdom, Kevin Skinner, Warren Polglaze and Phil Youngblutt - with at times bored looks on their faces, not even paying attention to speakers, were chided by one speaker for their rudeness. Several speakers complained that they had better things to do with their time than address council, who is appears to be serving the needs of developers ahead of the people who elected them.

Courageous green councillor Katie Milne, made a motion to reject the DA, reminding the other councillors how they stood on a green voting platform and their need to listen to the wishes of the people along with all the very valid complaints presented. Her motion was seconded by Cr Barry Longland. However they were outnumbered by the other four pro-development councillors.

On announcement of the vote in favour of the DA, the gallery broke into a near brawl, as residents yelled at the top of their voices their extreme anger and disappointment.

Mike Rayner

A number of amendments were made among which was a clause to require of the developer a $200,000 bank guarantee until 100 premises have been connected to the sewage treatment system to ensure the system is maintained. But then what happens after the 100th premise is sold and the rains begin in earnest to flood the area, as it is well known to do. Why doesn't the guarantee stay in place? Not that money will solve the problem of flooded sewage overflowing into the Tweed!

Strangely enough, according to a reliable source, the developer's original vision was to have composting toilets and a maximum of 450 people but both were rejected by council who forced him to have the current unsatisfactory sewage system and 1,000 residents, both requirements of which have raised the most objections by the community.

Tonight’s decision clearly shows us in the Tweed Shire there is no democracy – most of the councillors do not appear to care what people want. Logical deduction suggests that their actions must be motivated by concerns other than democratic representation. Residents also have grave concerns about the role played in advising and decision-making by General Manager Mike Rayner based on his appointment as Director on the board of Repco Rally Australia.

The role of Council General Manager, Mike Rayner, seems obscure to the residents. He has authority and influence over councillors and staff by virtue of his position as manager, yet he has no personal duty to represent the electorate, albeit, as a public servant. Residents feel he should be demonstrably above all vested interest, both political and pecuniary, as clearly stated in the Council Code of Conduct. The residents are concerned that they have little information about how Rayner affects decisions or where he stands on them, particularly since his primary duty is to his employers rather than to the political concerns of local residents.

After the extraordinary meeting deciding the DA on Nightcap Village, people in the community feel it's time to sack this council including Mike Rayner, and keep only the two councillors serving the people – Crs Katie Milne and Barry Longland. And this time, change the laws so that previously sacked councillors and general manager will be ineligible to run for office.

See also: "Raceway through the Rainforest. Paradise lost!" of 19 Apr 09, "Kyogle residents fight World Rally motor race" of 7 Mar 09 and other articles about fight by Tweed and Kyogle residents against World Car Rally.


How about some Tweed Shire residents writing an open letter to the Councillors who endorsed the development, requiring them to justify their decision, especially if they came in to council on a green ticket. (What have the Greens got to say about THIS? Can a person be accused of false advertising if they run on a green ticket and then vote on a greed ticket?) It looks like, from reporting in the Tweed Daily News, that the NSW Government was applying pressure through the courts or something.

What's going on in Tweed Heads? What's the pressure from the NSW Courts? How come our courts are marching to the developers' tune and not the residents'.
How can this decision stand?
Are there any constitutional lawyers out there prepared to defend our right to representation?
Detailed reports needed. The public need education in how such travesties come about.

(Original subject heading was 'Nightcap Village and the Mayor' - JS)

All the conservative councilors that voted for the village basically hate the mayor, either because they wanted to be the mayor, or because she keeps voting against them, with the greener councilors. They voted for it because the Land and Environment Court was going to pass it anyway. This way they got to put lots of conditions on it, like all the streets having to have Aboriginal names etc. The tree clearing referred to was noxious weed clearance ordered by the council. If anything losing Joan van Lieshout (the Mayor) as an independent advocate for the village was to their disadvantage, as she is a very good speaker. As it was widely publicised that the protesters were going to "stack the gallery" many people who approve of the idea of a green village, with water tanks, solar power, gray water systems, own sewerage etc were scared to attend. With good reason.

There is no such thing as a 'green village'.

It is made of mined and manufactured materials, takes up space that other creatures used, uses energy, requires cars, water, roads and food.

Why would anyone in that area approve of a so-called 'Green Village'? That just ruins what they came there for.

Same old . Same old. Greedy people delude themselves that by killing the goose they will get all the golden eggs at once. After they have spent the gold they are in a lifeless prison.

Why didn't they all go and live in China if they like money and overpopualtion so much??

Every living being " takes up space... uses energy, requires water and food " etc.

Answer me this - at what point are you guys happy?

If I lie in my home made (from recycled materials) hammock, and with one hand pull out my organic carrots on one side of the hammock and the other hand bury my waste, then that is OK I think. But how much further can I go?
Short of all killing ourselves I'm not sure you will be satisfied. Poor Katie Milne that has to keep you lot happy- hardest job in the shire. I feel sorry for her.

What are they not worried about very not green development on the coast, 30 times the size of this one - oh, it's not near where they live.

Anonymous, you seem to have lost the point. It's about dwindling biodiversity due to habitat destruction caused by humans. Better to build up on the coast and leave some space for the few remaining species left than to encroach on their territory with all our chemicals, noise, tree-felling and cars. Please read my speech to the council on biodiversity and see why our survival depends on protecting the entire ecosystem.

As for Cr Milne, she happens to agree with us. Why else would she be in her position if she didn't? I just wish more councillors were willing to fight for the environment instead of wanting more economic development at the cost of our biodiverse environment.

In case you haven't noticed, humans now number almost 7 billion and we are in plague proportions! Not all living beings are equal. We take and give nothing back. Other species take and give back.

"It’s embarrassing for Australia that we eat our own wildlife ....I’m here to tell you it’s just not right. Simply do not buy, use or eat kangaroo products”
~ Steve Irwin
Sign the most important petition ever created to help kangar

This country is and has always been run by the most gutless and spineles members of Australia that manipulate in every way possible to keep themselves and their slimey freinds in control,power and money.99% of councilers and politicians will crawl so far up each others arses to piss in each others pockets for their own adgendas it's not always these politicians and councilors are only there for their mates and their own adgenda's they are not there for the average australian person, in anyway or form.crikey's just look at mister midnight oil he had all the answers before he was a politician and now he's peter the carrot sprouting out of more arses than you can poke a stick at.

China has done more to tackle overpopulation than any other country, to the point of forced late term abortions.

I wonder if you require water, food and use energy? I hope not.

"That just ruins what they came there for" ie they are nimbys, not lovers of the whole Tweed.

The protesters probably ruined it for someone else, who ruined it for someone else - right back to the original inhabitants. There are more important things to worry about.

I'll see your Goose, and raise you a "Boy who cried Wolf".

For Christ's sake. I just read that the MAYOR of Tweed Shire is MARRIED to the Developer of this totally unpopular development. This is SCANDALOUS! I don't care if she didn't vote. It cannot help but look as if she was in a position to place psychological pressure on the councillors who voted.

The only way I would be convinced that this wasn't an inside job is if they had skittled this obscenely destructive of natural heritage development.

Please, send us the INSIDE STORY!

With the threats of climate change, environmental destruction, population growth, global water and food security short-falls, it seems that our leaders are suffering from short-sightedness and future-blindness! The grab for economic benefits and growth, at the expense of finite ecosystems, surely is a symptom of greed over logic and sustainable practices! Our immigration rate/population growth is supposed to insure our economic growth, however, our debts are worse than ever!

It could be possible that as our population grows it may mean also the destruction of the ecosystems that sustain us. Maybe we are heading for mass suicide with our own habitat destruction, and the grab is on to maximise the short-term benefits at all costs!

In 1990, I was a member, (along with Peter Van Lieshout) of a company which purchased this land with the view of a sustainable community. When we took control of the land, it was 3000 acres of head high groundsel (a noxious weed) and very little else. Since then I have seen a vast improvement in this degraded peice of farm land. Today, mainly thanks to "developer" Peter Van Lieshout, this same piece of land has been transformed from degraded land to a native tree plantation which will acts as a carbon sink and a valuable resource for the future generations. I have lived next to this property since 1990 and the river is cleaner now with more life than when I arrived, there are more birds and other wild life since the removal of cattle. As for the accusations of logging old growth forest. This was already done back in the 1940's.

People have the right to protest but please get your facts straight.

I understand that many other people in your region also work very hard to rehabilitate the land. Usually they do so at considerable cost to themselves. Very rarely do they receive any remuneration, let alone fair remuneration for their hard work.

What makes you presume that your own claimed efforts at rehabilitation gives you the right, against the objections of almost everyone else in your region, to completely change the character of the region into what will be effectively more urban sprawl, for your own personal once-off windfall profit?

Exactly what is to be achieved for a remote region by plonking into the middle of it 130 three storey units, 250 houses, a 100-bed backpacker and 100-bed motel and 50 assorted shops?

How are these people to obtain their livelihoods, if not by commuting daily to the Gold Coast or other regional towns over roads built and paid for by the ratepayers of Tweed Shire and the taxpayers of NSW, thereby destroying the peace and tranquility of the area and adding further to the traffic congestion in the locations to which they commute?

How is the food and other necessities for all those extra people to be obtained except by importing it from elsewhere at greater expense using our finite stocks of petroleum? Exactly what, in return, will this development contribute to the Australian economy, other than being yet another sink for our finite stocks of energy and other natural resources?

It was not the developer who mentioned the work done to rehabitate the land as assumed by James Sinnamon but by me who just happens to live and work in the immediate area. Like that assumption made, many of the other reasons against this development are just that. Assumptions made with little or no regard to fact. How does anyone obtain a living? By having a job, which in the current climate are rapidly disappearing. Did you know, that we employ upto 20 people for about 40 weeks each year right here in the valley.

Surely if the people choose to live at the Nightcap Village they would become rate payers of the Tweed Shire and therefore contribute to the road costs. Also a sustantial part of the purchase price, known as road contribution, of these blocks goes to the council to cover the road costs.

If one was to believe everything one hears about what is going to be built in the village, it is going to be bigger than Sydney with more hotel beds than the Gold Coast.

As I have previously said, protest as is your right, but please use fact not assumptions......

I am not exactly sure why it is that Paul Scott expects that Tweed Shire residents who have strenuously objected to the Nightcap development will accede to his edict that they "live with" the decision of the Tweed Shire Council to ignore their wishes, but I sincerely hope that the Tweed Shire residents tell Paul Scott where to put his advice.

I wonder what Paul's understanding of the concept of 'democracy' is?

My understanding of democracy, to once again borrow US President Abraham Lincoln's immortal words, is 'government of the people, by the people, for the people'.

What has happened in Tweed Shire is clearly different.

Clearly, the Tweed Shire Councilors, the majority of which have been voted into office on the basis of being supposedly pro-environment and anti-developer, have been somehow got at behind the backs of those who voted them into office and been persuaded to disregard their wishes.

Paul Scott wrote:

It was not the developer who mentioned the work done to rehabilitate the land as assumed by James Sinnamon but by me who just happens to live and work in the immediate area.

This is completely beside the point. In fact, if it was not the developer that supposedly rehabilitated the land, then they would have even less moral right to build the housing estate. As I wrote earlier, many others in the region have also worked hard to rehabilitate the land, but have not presumed that this gives them the right to profit enormously at the expense of fellow residents by plonking a huge residential development in their midst.

So, Paul Scott, do you, or don't you have a direct financial stake in the development proceeding?

Paul Scott wrote:

"Did you know, that we employ up to 20 people for about 40 weeks each year right here in the valley."

But I thought that they were going to build 130 three storey units, 250 houses, a 100-bed backpacker and 100-bed motel and 50 shops?

It seems like far more dwellings than are necessary to house those 20 people to me, even assuming that their work is socially useful, sustainable and will endure.

Paul Scott wrote:

"Surely if the people choose to live at the Nightcap Village they would become rate payers of the Tweed Shire and therefore contribute to the road costs. Also a sustantial part of the purchase price, known as road contribution, of these blocks goes to the council to cover the road costs."

In fact, it is well understood that population growth costs the local community and does not pay for itself. That is why council rates, water charges electricity charges, etc, are going up in South East Queensland as a consequence of the state Government's recklessly irresponsible policy of encouragement of population growth.

Property speculators openly gloat at how they will profit from improvements to land value made possible by the construction of infrastructure at the expense of taxpayers and local ratepayers, not to mention the Federal and State Government's policies to deliberately drive up population at the behest of the Growth Lobby.

Notwithstanding the supposed road contribution, it is unlikely that the situation with Nightcap will be fundamentally different.

Even if it can be shown that the costs can be fully recovered, it should still be the democratic right of local communities to preserve their way of life should they so choose.

On the subject of not getting facts straight and not exaggerating, Paul's statement:

"If one was to believe everything one hears about what is going to be built in the village, it is going to be bigger than Sydney with more hotel beds than the Gold Coast."

That is an exaggeration. But 130 three storey units, 250 houses, a 100-bed backpacker and 100-bed motel and 50 shops is fact and as fact is far too much development for this neck of the woods. We have narrow two lane roads interfacing with native animals, 2/3rds of whom are already at risk of extinction, why would we need another 4,500 car movements per day for all these people going to work every day (since there is only work for 20 people in the area)? There will be more roadkill, more human fatalities, more pollution, more noise. Let these people live in cities, not here, sorry.

Then there is the issue of effluent possibly flowing into the Tweed River which supplies the town with drinking water. On and on, objection after objection. We DON'T WANT IT and we will continue to fight Nightcap because it's got too many flaws which obviously you can't/won't see since as a vested shareholder you are not willing to look at and admit.

"It’s embarrassing for Australia that we eat our own wildlife ....I’m here to tell you it’s just not right. Simply do not buy, use or eat kangaroo products”
~ Steve Irwin
Sign the most important petition ever created to help kangar

Subject was 'wolf! wolf' - JS

How do 1000 people create 4500 extra movements a day? do you think they are all going to drive to town 3 times a day? I used to live near there and we went to town once a fortnight. Our 5 person family would have had 1 journey per week, unless you count being dropped at the bus stop.

There have been reports in the media that at least 1/2 the people living there support the village, as being just what the tweed has been asking for. So much energy being wasted on this and on attacking people who do not agree. It is really turning ordinary people off "green" politics.

There is a lot of exageration and misinformation in this campaign and it is a shame because there are far greater dangers lurking on the coast.

To the rally people- Just a tip- have you considered all going to Vinnies to buy some conservative clothes when you rally? You would make a far greater impression on wavering councillors. Just a thought.