Archive for September, 2009

Go Ape at it again in Lever Park

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

It seems Go Ape at Lever Park in the UK are ignoring their stated opening times and number of participants.

What’s next?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

“Whats next……” I hear you cry?

An excellent question and one that deserved an answer before now – apologies for not doing this earlier.

Without rewriting the Hills Shire Council webpage on the DA process http://www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/IgnitionSuite/uploads/docs/DA_communications_protocol_2008.pdf the next stage of the process will be that the notes from the “conciliation meeting” will be sent to all those parties who registered on the night – providing of course your handwriting is legible – we’ll post them here as soon as we get them and they’re expected about now.  It’s important to remember these are “notes” only, not minutes and have no legal or binding status.  Council have been provided copies of all of our speeches plus other submissions on the night plus have all of our collective submissions on file.  Parallel to this the Developer will be advised of the issues raised on the night.

Council basically has 3 levels fpr determination of DA’s;

  • Under Delegated Authority (standard stuff that meets the guidelines, basic renos, carports, signage etc)
  • Council’s Development Assessment Unit (DAU) meeting. Development applications determined by the DAU are those which do not comply with the relevant planning regulations/ policies, and/or where an objection has been submitted.
  • Ordinary Meeting of the Council. Development applications determined by the elected Council are those of a controversial nature that may have been referred by the DAU or attracted a large volume of objections.

Obviously this DA will go to the DAU – the DAU may choose one/any/many of 4 basic options;

      1. Deny consent in total. Developer can challenge in Land & Environment Court.
      2. Grant consent in total – DA as submitted.
      3. Grant consent subject to conditions/terms.
      4. Refer the matter directly to a council meeting.

The minutes and applicable decisions of the DAU (Tuesday morning closed meeting) are published and Councillors have a limited timeframe to decide whether to refer the matter to a council meeting or not depending on the DAU decision.  We need to be ready to lobby councillors QUICKLY should the decision be against us, ie 2, 3 or 4 as above.  It’s highly likely however, given the “interest” generated that this will go straight to council.  It’s imperative that we have a good showing at any meeting, normal BRAG rules apply – no uncontrolled emotion, swearing, yelling or handguns.

Once we know what the determination of DA is the next challenge for us will be the lobbying of Council [and other parties] to get the Reserve rezoned or protected under the current zoning  – we will all need to meet to discuss a strategy further down the track.

Please keep visiting the website for updates and if you haven’t already done so, register your details via the contacts page.  Please ask any questions you may have and any suggestions, news, views etc always welcome.

Michael

Front page

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

The proposed Go Ape development in Ted Horwood and Bidjigal Reserves is front-page in this week’s Hills Shire Times, with more on Page 4. Only two of the three stories have text links at the moment:

Adventure lost

Action group goes ape and calls for action

There is a third story, “Applicant defends report”, about the noise report. You can find this story on page 4 of the electronic version.

In case anyone is interested, I have also uploaded the letter to the editor which I sent to the Hills Shire Times, refuting some of the claims made in the article. I also sent an annotated version, which goes into rather more detail and is complete with illustrations!

Another web site update

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

The initial theme for the BRAG site was unashamedly pinched from Lever Park’s site. I figured it was time we grew up a little and had our own ‘look’. Unfortunately, I don’t have a design bone in my body. However, both my sons assure me the new look is better. Of course, it could just be that they know which side their bread is buttered on!

The other change is that our ‘Objections’ page has been greatly expanded. The original page was intentionally light on detail. Now that we can reveal all, we have a *lot* of objections! The new page was meant to be a summary; but, like design, summarising is not my strong point. I’ll try to trim it at some stage.

Cheers

Di

Michelle’s Letter to the editor

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Michelle Cavanagh has had a letter to the editor published in the Hills Shire Times of 8 September 2009.

2009-09-08 Michelle letter

Special Thanks

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

To the anonymous resident from George Muir Close who left the envelope in my letterbox:-

Thank you for your note, it was equally uplifting, unexpected and appreciated.  Your gift has gone to the intended recipients who also pass on their thanks.

Michael

A successful “conciliation”!!

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

To the 200+ (official records show at least 191 signed in but there were more than that) less the 5 representing the developer who turned up on a dark and stormy Monday night, on behalf of BRAG I wish to extend the biggest THANK YOU!

I’m going to break one of my own rules and get a little emotive in this post.  I’m also aware that the developers read our website so I’ll welcome them as well.

It would be fair to say that when the spectacular (but fortunately brief) electrical storm hit at about 5:30PM and I was hurriedly trying to print my speech an expletive or two escaped my lips – worried that people wouldn’t bother to turn up at the meeting but even more concerned a power cut would hit and I’d be trying to read my speech off a thumb-drive.

The car park looked very empty at about 6:30PM, had we thrown a party and no-one was coming?  Looking inside the council building I saw many of the faithful and felt so much better. I was a little concerned when neighbours failed to recognise me – apparently it was the suit and tie?  At about 6:55 the queue at the sign in table had grown to out the door and the room was already 3/4′s full.  Everyone was so encouraging and seeing Peter Brown (speaker #1) and Tony Hunt (number 2) also dressed in suit and tie (not pre-arranged I assure you) made me feel much better.  Seeing the developer in jeans and jumper also helped.

A quick chat with the council ensured that a fair hearing would be available provided the developer got equal time and we were off.  Peter stepped up and spoke eloquently and passionately about traffic, parking, public amenity and a few other things – all I remember is “this development is flawed and must not be approved” – get a theme and stick to it.

The applause that greeted the culmination of Peters speech was amazing and spontaneous, we could feel the love in the room.  Tony then delivered what was the most technical part of our objections, he had everyone in the room at “hello”, errr, at “I hold 3 degrees including a masters in environmental science” -  I think I heard the “Oh S#!t” from the opposition from where I was sitting!  Tony managed to make the noise report look like the ridiculous thing that it is, mixing tech-speak with explanations and pointing out the obvious flaws in a way that showed research, understanding and passion – well done that man!  The council bench were furiously writing notes and most interestingly nodding at points as they were made. Exit stage left, round of applause.

I don’t remember much of my time up there, more the times I looked up from juggling my notes and the annoying microphone to see the faces looking back and the attention that was being paid.  It was a rush to be up there and to finish without making (I hope) too big a fool of myself.  I must add at this point, that only a little of my speech was my own work, several ghost writers had their pens in my ink so to speak – Tony Hunt and Cherry and Robert Gibson are mainly responsible if it was cr@p!

3 – nil, developer up to bat.

Michael Ledzion told me after the event that he didn’t expect it to be like it was, but I think I can sum it up best as saying it was like he brought a waterpistol to a thermo-nuclear war…..I won’t bore you with the gory details as I have an obvious bias but his consultants didn’t seem to help matters much and then it was onto the Q&A round.

Speaker after speaker either made valid points or asked questions that seemed to get either no answer or a poor response.  The room was extremely well educated on the issue and cause and effect – our cause was helped endlessly by a representative from the Darug who advised that the Darug were against the development – the lifeboats were being inflated on the developers benches.  For those that have been following my private joke about the French (don’t ask) you can imagine what went through my mind when a (beautiful) french accent was heard to announce she was from Ourimbah where she runs a similar venture – torpedoes away but not in our direction as I expected but rather a dead centre blow on the good ship Go Ape’s evening cruise.

We were brought back to reality with a thump when the councillors, quite rightly reminded us that this is a DA process and still has to processed accordingly – we await the report from the night and the DUA submission – the fight is not over but I have to admit we put up one hell of reasoned, researched argument.  This process may be flawed but for the moment it’s the only one we’ve got and on Monday night proved that there is always a reason and a way to fight perceived injustice.

I won’t bore you with too many more details, only to thank all of those who assisted on the night, Lynda for my bottle of water, Paula for the Save Bidjigal Reserve badges and a huge hug for both Tony and Peter.

To Di Gorman for the website and her work in the background, Greg Carson and all of the volunteers for the petitions and flyers.  Jeff Gorman and Peter Brown for printing same.  To everyone else who have assisted, encouraged or just maintained the rage – maintain it for a while longer – I’m not entirely convinced this is over by a long margin as yet – stay tuned.

THANK YOU ALL

Michael Cameron

Do something practical for Bidjigal Reserve

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

We have received this correspondence from David Wilmshurst, the Chairman of the Bidjigal Reserve Trust Board:

Dear Neighbours,

It was good to see the support for Bidjigal Reserve at the conciliation meeting last night.

Given the passion expressed last night, I take it that the support will continue past the time of this issue.

Volunteers are needed for many tasks. Examples are: Bushcare, Flora and Fauna Monitor, Publicist, Guide, Historian, Clerical Assistant, Neighbourhood Contact Person, Corporate Friend, Webmaster, Advocate and specialist technical roles such as structural engineer, arborist, legal advisor, project manager volunteer coordinator etc.

Registered volunteers are well covered in terms of personal injury and public liability insurance by the State Government scheme.

Those interested in applying for volunteer positions for the Reserve should email their offers to the Secretary, at Secretary.

Many of us were not even aware that the Trust Board wants our help as volunteers. This is a very important first step in opening up communications, and we strongly urge you to volunteer in any way you can.

Those of you who have long been involved in Council’s bushcare groups may feel some ambivalence over this. It is a shame that politicking has gotten in the way of what is best for the Reserve. I do know that at least one regular member of Council’s programme has enquired about the Trust Board’s bushcare programme and was very pleased with the response. She is now going to receive advice and assistance in managing the weeds behind her house. The two programmes aren’t necessarily incompatible.

Nature Conservation Council of NSW expresses “significant concerns”

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has written to The Hills Shire Council to express its “significant concerns” at the proposed Go Ape development in Bidjigal Reserve. The letter can be seen here.

The NCC is also urging people to attend the Conciliation Conference on Monday, 7 September.