Further consultation for the PHACS

AMID groans and calls of ‘bunkum’ from a section of the public gallery and attempts to involve Coffs Harbour Police, Coffs Harbour City Council’s troubled PHACS document took another halting step on Thursday.

A report to the councillors from staff recommended that the draft priority habitats and corridors strategy be amended; removing an estimated 10,000 hectares of land defined as high conservation areas, and be subject to further exhibition and consultation.

But a majority of councillors declined to endorse the new environmental categories and overlays in the revised PHACS, which would have allowed them to be incorporated into the draft standard instrument local environmental.

Lengthy and confusing discussions involved what the mayor Cr Keith Rhoades described as a ‘rack and stack’ list of motions, amendments and foreshadowed amendments.

A majority of councillors finally approved a motion put by Cr John Arkan and seconded by Cr Rodney Degens, which incorporated most of the staff recommendations but declined to endorse the amendments e.

Cr Arkan moved that the PHACS and the new draft mapping layers be the subject of further negotiations with the Department of Planning as part of the SILEP process; a revised PHACS be submitted to the council meeting on May 13 with a recommendation of a further public consultation for 28 days, to be referred back to council about July 22 to consider formal adoption and any changes be incorporated into the SILEP before its public exhibition in October.

As well as reporting on the 590 submissions received, six of them fraudulent, staff presented revised draft PHACS mapping, which reduced the area of Category 2 (high conservation) land identified in the earlier document by about 10,000 hectares, according to Cr Mark Graham.

Cr Graham also wanted police to investigate the fraudulent submissions a suggestion dismissed by the mayor Cr Keith Rhoades.

Cr Paul Templeton moved that council reject the revised draft Priority Habitats and Corridors and start a new process He narrowly failed to gain majority support for his position.

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