Costs dropped for Sandon Point activist

Sandon Point tent embassy. Photo: Alexander Brown

Activists fighting to defend Sandon Point won an important victory in the Land and Environment Court in early February, opening the way for ongoing legal challenges to Stockland’s development at the site.

Stockland has been clearing the site to build the McCauley's Beach residential development. It is the last green strip from the escarpment to the coast in the northern Illawarra.

A community campaign against the development has been going for over 10 years. In late 2009, then-planning minister Kristina Keneally approved the development under Part 3A planning laws.

Activists from the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) have claimed that Stockland is breaching the conditions of the Project Approval.

Stockland applied for security of costs from Roy "Dootch" Kennedy, elder and spokesperson for SPATE, which would have brought the legal challenge to a halt through financial strain.

However, Justice Pain dismissed the application on the basis of the case being in the public interest, that Kennedy would not benefit from the case financially, and that SPATE was going to provide evidence of Stockland's breach of the conditions.

Evidence of heavy metals and contamination of water pools in the recently cleared areas of the development was presented to the Land and Environment Court in December.

The independent testing, initiated by SPATE, found concentrations of aluminium, chromium, zinc and lead up to 100 times the safe level.

In December, SPATE celebrated 10 years of campaigning with the "3 Fires 2 Moons" festival, attended by about 1000 guests.

Wollongong City Council took SPATE to court to try to have the festival stopped, but failed.

Indigenous singer Christine Anu was among the many local and visiting musicians who performed in support. Cultural workshops, fire ceremonies, Elder's circles and site walks were also organised.

The full hearing in the case is scheduled for March 28-30.

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