A Development Application DA for a 36-lot subdivision at Orion Drive, Yamba, over an area that is predominantly water, has been deferred for one month by Clarence Valley Council to allow consultation with the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.
The DA was lodged to enable the existing lots that adjoin the waterway to have increased access to this body of water whilst enabling additional recreational uses of this area including installation of water recreation structures.
Cr Bill Day moved a motion to defer the decision on the DA, which was seconded by Cr Ian Tiley.
“I’d like to move that council defer considering this DA until the traditional owners (Yaegl people) have been consulted,” Cr Day said.
Then, Cr Karen Toms said she would like to foreshadow the council officer’s recommendation that council approve the DA subject to advices and conditions.
Cr Toms asked council’s Director of Environment and Planning, Adam Cameron, how long the DA had been under assessment with council.
Mr Cameron said this was the second time the DA had been on public exhibition and two lots had been dropped off the original application, and General Manager Laura Black said the initial DA was lodged in September 2020.
Cr Toms then asked whether council was at risk by deferring the DA to consult with the traditional owners, to which Mr Cameron replied, “there is a risk”.
Cr Debrah Novak then asked Mr Cameron whether the DA was discussed with council’s native title manager Danny Parker, and she was advised council had consulted the development engineer, the building surveyor, the natural resource management officer and government agencies.
Cr Day said the main issue with the DA was the waterway in concern is connected to the Clarence River and any development may impact native title land outside the subdivision further downstream.
Cr Tiley said late on Monday, September 25, he received a letter from Wiliam Walker, CEO of Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation YTOAC bringing to the attention of all councillors the 2015 Native Title determination in favour of the YTOAC over waters adjacent to and downstream from the DA site.
“The letter states the traditional owners were not consulted in relation to the DA,” he said.
“The Yaegl letter requests that council not determine this DA as the traditional owners have not had an opportunity of considering the possible impacts that may affect the adjoining owners.”
Additionally, Cr Tiley remined councillors the 336-lot subdivision proposed for James Creek was unanimously refused in June, one reason being the lack of consultation with the YTOAC.
“I think we’ve got no choice, given that Native Title exists and it’s alongside the proposal, we should consult,” Cr Tiley said.
Cr Toms said it was extremely disappointing Mr Walker didn’t bring the native title issue to council’s attention before it got to this stage.
“I have a real problem with stopping a planning matter that’s already gone way over the 40-day time clock for an assessment, which this gentleman can take us to the Land and Environment Court as a deemed refusal,” she said.
Cr Novak said she would be supporting consulting the Yaegl people because if the DA is passed without consultation, then council could be liable for a lot more money due to the Native Title held.
Cr Steve Pickering then moved an amendment to the motion that council defer the motion for one month for consultation with the YTOAC, which was seconded by Cr Toms.
When councillors voted on the amended motion to defer for one month for consultation with the YTOAC it was supported unanimously.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 4 October 2023.