Conflict over Iron Gates development

Issue 

Conflict over Iron Gates development

By Brett Jones

The Iron Gates housing development, under construction near Evans Head, in northern NSW, is a cause of conflict between developer Iron Gates Pty Ltd and the local Bundjalung people.

The site has been shown to contain endangered flora and fauna, and significant local Aboriginal remains. Mr Wilson, Bundjalung elder and traditional owner of the land, has brought to the government's attention a midden and eight scarred ceremonial trees on the property.

These trees, Wilson said, mark the massacre of eight local Aboriginal elders. During clearing for an access road, seven of the trees were bulldozed and destroyed, in total contravention of the agreement held between the developer and the Bundjalung people. The midden was also destroyed.

The NSW Land and Environment Court ruled on December 2 that Iron Gates Pty Ltd had deviated from the agreed plans by as much as 60% (over 7000 square metres).

Iron Gates Pty Ltd has since been restrained from further development of the site while the court considers the claim that the road was not built in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

Local activists believe the developer is destroying areas of environmental, historical and spiritual significance. Many people feel that this case shows how laws on environmental planning are flouted by big business.

Fifty-six people have been arrested for protests at the site.

If found guilty of destroying the habitat of endangered species, the developer could receive a $10,000 fine or a year's jail. This would come too late for the flora destroyed, the animals displaced or killed and the sacred history of the Bundjalung people.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.