Council decision was unanimous

IT happened so fast that most in the gallery missed the decision they had come to hear.

Bellingen Shire Council's vote yesterday to advise the RTA it did not support the proposed Cameron's Corner realignment option was unanimous and took place without any debate.

The council decision was based on a staff report assessing the RTA's Review of Ecological Factors (REF).

Senior planner, Daniel Bennett, concluded the degree of clearing required for the proposed design was not justified given the ecological importance of the endangered ecological communities in the wetlands, which adjoin Waterfall Way.

“While the REF adequately covers the breadth of issues required by legislation . . . many conclusions made in support of the document are subjective judgments capable of a wide range of opinions, as has been evidenced by the significant amount of public interest in the proposal,” Mr Bennett wrote.

In accordance with Mr Bennett's recommendations, the council also voted to request the RTA provide further environmental information regarding the prevalence of the endangered Swamp Sclerophyll Forest in the area and the methodology used by the RTA to obtain their supporting data.

The mayor, Cr Mark Troy and deputy mayor, Cr Kerry Child, will meet with the regional RTA manager, David Bell, next week to encourage an 'amendment to the design eliminating encroachment on the wetlands'.

Shire residents who have been campaigning for the protection of the area since August last year said they were thrilled with the decision.

“This is the first step to having further communication with the RTA and requesting them to implement an alternative decision,” spokesperson and Dorrigo resident Trevor Deane said.

“We hope a range of possible options will be considered with the prime objective being that the endangered wetlands are not interfered with.”

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