Posts Tagged ‘Bidjigal Reserve Action Group’

Well done & thanks!

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Go-Ape DA refused by Hills Shire Council.

Go-Ape DA refused by Hills Shire Council.

Go-Ape DA refused by Hills Shire Council.

I know it’s been written before but I just like typing it and reading it over and over.

Well done to everyone involved, so many people who supported the fight, and as Di said, delivered leaflets, wrote to Council, sent ideas, attended meetings and provided input and support along the way.

To those who brought this to the attention of all of us in the first place, to those who assisted with the presentations and the presenters themselves, to a few (who will remain un-named) who used their political clout and nous to bring influence to bear, to The Hills Shire Council for having in place a system which allowed us to have input into the process and for the consideration shown, to Di for her superb website which has held all of this together and to everyone else involved a massive……


Whilst Go-Ape has the option of going to the NSW Land & Environment Court I’m sure that this DA will be treated as it deserves – stay tuned!

Finally I’d like to share something that someone told me about a week ago and on reflection I believe is true and probably sums up our biggest achievement.

“this fight against the Go-Ape DA has brought the whole community together…..”


Making sure our fight against Go Ape is not forgotten

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Michael features in this week’s Hills Shire Times again. This time he is drawing attention to the drumming workshops in the UK – typical of the disruptive, high-noise activities favoured by Go Ape.

Bidjigal Reserve and Go Ape in the news again

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Page 3 of the Hills Shire Times this week carries a story about the Lands Department urging the Bidjigal Reserve Trust Board to reconsider its decision not to proceed with the Go Ape proposal. Lands (or The Land and Property Management Authority, as it now is) appears to be making this recommendation based purely on the Go Ape DA, without any consideration of the proposal’s many, many shortcomings, or of the objections received by Council.

We are still waiting on the next stage of the DA process, as outlined in Michael’s What’s Next? post. We should have news from Council by early next week – we hope!


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 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.


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!

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.


Michael Cameron

More volunteers needed … please!

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Thank you very much to those who have already volunteered to drop flyers in letterboxes. Someone will be in touch with you soon, as we hope to have a big push before the Conciliation Conference.

However, we are in need of people who are willing to collect more signatures on the petition. If you feel you have a reasonable grasp of what the proposal is about and can spare a couple of hours, please let Michael know via our contact page.

If you are not confident about collecting petition signatures, more volunteers for the letterbox drops are always needed! We are anxious to cover as wide an area as possible by the end of next weekend.

If you can’t do the walking but are a signwriter, or an environmental lawyer, or something similarly useful, please do let us know!

BRAG Meeting 24th August 2009

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Thank you to all who attended the 2nd Bidjigal Reserve Action Group (BRAG) Meeting.  Around 60 people attended including 3 Hills Shire Councillors, Clr Thomas, Clr Jefferies and Clr Bentham.  At one stage I saw several people peering in the side window of the loungeroom – no idea what or even how they heard anything but their attendance was appreciated.

There was a great number of excellent questions, both of the group itself in general and the councillors in particular – it was also interesting to hear their different opinions however I think we can all take heart from their positive words about the  approach we are taking.

It’s important to remember that this is the start of the battle – we need to win the war – become active particpants in the decisions others are making on our behalf.  Write and phone Councillors with your opinion – even 6 unhappy smiley faces has an impact – :P .  We will also be adding contact details for the Bidjigal Trust – one of the important things that came out of the meeting was the fact that NO commercial agreement has been reached between the Trust and the applicant so we can affect the decision.

Attendance in numbers at the Conciliation meeting is essential – see the website for more information.

We will be in touch with all of the volunteers we can reach out to – if we don’t please chase us, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately given the GFC) we also have employers who insist on a small amount of productivity during the day…..

Thanks again for your support.

Michael Cameron

The website

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Thanks to Di for putting this together and to all those who have already contributed in all aspects of what we’ve achieved so far.

The purpose of what we’re doing is to try to bring some rational debate to the proposed DA affecting Bidjigal Reserve.  It is our intention to prevent this DA from being approved for a variety of reasons.  The website contains facts and some opinion – it’s up to you to establish what your thoughts on the matter are – we trust that the information we provide helps you reach the obvious conclusion :) .

We welcome, indeed, encourage your comments.

Michael Cameron.