Bega Valley council to vote again on Eden chipmill timber hub DA after legal challenge

A bird's eye view of the Eden chipmill.
A bird's eye view of the Eden chipmill.

A successful legal challenge by conservation group, South East Forest Rescue (SEFR) against Allied Natural Wood Exports' Timber Optimisation Hub at the Eden chipmill site is likely to be short-lived according to Bega Valley Shire mayor Russell Fitzpatrick.

SEFR challenged the legitimacy of the development consent, which was granted by Bega Valley Shire Council in September last year.

On August 24, Judge Robson of the Land and Environment Court of NSW ruled under Section 4.16 of the EP&A Act that the development consent at Edrom Road, was "invalid, void and of no force and effect".

Council's DA decision was made by delegation of the general manager to the planning director.

Cr Fitzpatrick said the court found that the delegation "didn't apply".

"We will be correcting this and bringing it to council and hopefully will re-issue the DA," Cr Fitzpatrick said.

"It is just a process matter."

It is just a process matter.

BVSC mayor Russell Fitzpatrick

This was re-iterated by Penarch's regional manager, Charlie Fisher.

"We believe it is a council process matter that they are dealing with prior to the court's deadline," Mr Fisher said.

Cr Fitzpatrick said the court had given council until September 15 to correct the matter and that was why an extraordinary meeting of council had been called for September 14.

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Council staff have recommended that council determines the proposed development does not constitute a designated development (something that would need greater oversight due to its environmental impacts, for example). Staff also recommend approval for the log sorter, sawmill, pallet plant, briquette plant and repurposing of the existing water treatment thickener tank.

In the report to council staff said that a detailed assessment of the proposal was undertaken by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) on behalf of council, "as part of the collegial support provided to BVSC after the Black Summer Bushfires in 2020".

"DPIE's assessment of the development application has fully considered all relevant matters under Section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), the objects of the EP&A Act and the principles of ecologically sustainable development," the report said.

Cr Fitzpatrick said following a vote to confirm the matter, a new DA would be issued on September 14.

It is believed that council will have the voting numbers to re-issue the DA.

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