Residents ask Sartor to extend timeframe

CONCERNED Coffs residents gathered at the edge of South Moonee Forest yesterday to raise awareness of the potential environmental damage a proposed residential development could do to the area.

The meeting was called ahead of Friday's deadline for public exhibition of the plans that could see 300 homes built in an area a local ecology group has called 'a biodiversity icon of the Mid North Coast'.

Regional Alliance for Sustainable Planning (RASP) spokesperson Mark Graham chaired the meeting of about a dozen residents and called upon Minister for Planning Frank Sartor to extend the exhibition period by at least one month.

A spokeswoman for the Minister said the exhibition of the Moonee Waters Environmental Assessment commenced on December 7, 2007, and has been open for 48 days, which is significantly more than the 30-day statutory requirement.

But RASP has dismissed the comment, claiming that due to the consultation period being held over the holiday period many residents are unaware of the proposal.

Two Coffs mothers who attended the public gathering yesterday were 'thinking of the children' when they expressed concern about the development.

"There's too many threatened species here and we should be developing sites that are already cleared," Nicole Larikin said.

"Too much talk of money and not enough about the future," Ellie Shepherd said.

Coffs City Councillor Gavin Smithers said he would prefer to see the area be environmentally protected but at this late stage the council 'is effectively sidelined'.

"It's in the Planning Department's hands," Cr Smithers said.

Claims the development provides an extensive conservation area were refuted by Nana Glen resident Connie Seward, who called the proposal another example of 'a crazy mentality for destroying everything'.

"They talk about the area being 75 per cent protected but it will be trashed," Connie said.

A spokeswoman for Minister Sartor said the Department of Planning will provide detailed advice on the proposal in the context of the sensitive local environment.

RASP is planning another gathering in three weeks time as a show of opposition to the development.

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