Land exchange is questioned
Torch Newspaper – 07/07/1999
A spokeswoman for the Bankstown Bushland Society, Ms Pat Bell, said “the society is concerned that council’s recommendation to the Minister for Land and Water Conservation that the land swap is in the public interest, may have been based on inadequate information.”
“Councillors and the public were told that approvals in principle to the proposed use of a portion of Airport Reserve had been given by the Minister, the Department and the RTA, prior to the matter coming to council,” Ms Bell said.
Council approved the disposal of this public land on the assumption that these approvals remained valid, she said.
“We have asked the Ombudsman to determine when these approvals in principle were obtained and whether they are still current. The RTA approval, for instance, was given in 1996, possibly because the RTA was told the road access was to serve the airport museum alone.
“No attempt was made by council to seek an Environmental Impact Study for the construction of this road in a flood prone area, adjacent to Transition Forest – which was listed as an endangered ecological community.
“If you or I wanted to build such an access road, we would be required to show that there would be no adverse environmental impact. Council has required other fast food outlets to provide access from a side street rather than from an arterial road.”
“The society also brought to the attention of the Ombudsman the fact that Bankstown Council has a poor record of community consultation during the planning stages of numerous developments of interest to the community.
“In man cases, decisions by council are made long before the community is allowed to input and then their concerns are usually ignored.”
“The installation of a drain in protected bushland at The Crest is an example of council’s failure to consult its own bushland officer or the community before approving this development,” Ms Bell said.
In response, council has said the concerns about the regenerated bushland on the reserve beside the airport, though which the slip road was to be constructed, were unfounded.
And when the controversy about the bushland at The Crest happened, council said it was aware that during construction some plants suffered an adverse effect and that the situation was being sorted out with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Bankstown Mayor, Cr Ian Stromborg, said the Bushland Society had every right to approach the Ombudsman about the issue.