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Fame Cove developer loses Supreme Court fight with NSW Government

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Earlier damage by developerpeterfFri, 19/05/2017 - 6:56pm

An intense legal battle between the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and Mr Phillip Dong Fang Lee’s LDF Enterprise, the owner of an iconic 409-hectare waterfront site on Port Stephens’ northern shore, has resulted in defeat for Mr Lee.

At issue was the right of the OEH to enter the site, which stretches from Bundabah, to Fame Cove, to investigate the reported existence of Aboriginal heritage sites, including middens, and, if confirmed, to assess whether they have been damaged.

This assessment process was part of a wider effort by the NSW Government and MidCoast Council to enforce both state wide environment protection laws and a range of conditions imposed as part of several development applications approved by the then Great Lakes Council.

LDF Enterprise took the issue of OEH’s right to access its property to the NSW Supreme Court, claiming that it should not be approved. The court disagreed, rejected the claim and ruled that all legal costs would have to be paid by LDF.

OEH maintains the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS). Court records state that a registered AHIMS site, where middens are situated, is located on this particular Port Stephens property. It has been alleged that two middens may have been damaged but the court noted that the owner disputes this.

As for broader environmental breaches, site inspections by Council Officers last year reportedly left them appalled by what has been described as prolific devastation, much carried out beyond the scope of approved DAs, without permit or consultation.

OEH officers who visited the property also observed potential breaches of the Native Vegetation Act and the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

This developer has previously incurred fines and costs in excess of ¼ million dollars for major environmental breaches on this site that because of its high conservation value has been subject to detailed ecological and environmental reports by Council.

Some of these breaches are obvious from Fame Cove, North Arm Cove and Pindimar in Port Stephens. They include tree and native vegetation removal, the construction of unapproved roads some with deep cuttings, with no provision for sediment control, which will likely result in damage to the adjacent Marine Park and sea grasses.

In response to this damage MidCoast Council took legal action in the Land and Environment Court which imposed a stop work order on the site. This has been in place for approximately six months. It is understood efforts to come up with a resolution through consultation are ongoing.

Further Land and Environment Court hearings are scheduled for 24th and 26th May.

Issued by Len Yearsley, Vice President of the North Arm Cove Residents Association and chairman of its Fame Cove/North Arm Cove Sub Committee

 

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Thank you Len, this sounds like a promising outcome for the environment, and for Mid Coast Council who have had to spend a considerable sum of rate payers money to push for a rational approach to development.

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