SIGN SABOTAGE: Protest signs against the proposed rezoning of land on Palmers Island. INSET: The signs were removed on Friday night.
SIGN SABOTAGE: Protest signs against the proposed rezoning of land on Palmers Island. INSET: The signs were removed on Friday night.

$1000 reward to catch sign sabotage culprits

TENSIONS have escalated in relation to a rezoning proposal at Palmers Island that has divided the community.

The proposal to convert rural land to allow for expansion of Yamba Welding and Engineering is currently in the hands of NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Residents opposed to the rezoning have launched a protest campaign including an online video and signage.

"The re-zoning application has twice been rejected by NSW Planning at the highest levels," resident Peter Sutton said. "The proponent has been given one final chance to get his proposal accepted via a highly contentious review panel ruling."

On Friday former Australian of the Year and Palmers Island resident Kay Cottee presented her case against the rezoning proposal in an interview with talkback radio stalwart John Laws.

However, on Friday night up to 25 signs, including many on private property, were "vandalised and removed by a group under cover of darkness and rain".

 

Mr Sutton said a $1000 cash reward has been offered for the identification of those responsible.

About 8.15pm residents saw and heard cars doing doughnuts at the corner of McConnells Ln and School Rd, Palmers Island.

Police were called to McConnells Ln about 9am on Saturday morning when a broken padlock was discovered and livestock gates left open.

"We're appealling for anyone with information to come forward. It can be done anonymously or through Crime Stoppers," Coffs Clarence duty officer Peter Hayes said.

Protest signs against the proposed rezoning of land on Palmers Island were removed on Friday night, 15th June, 2019.
Protest signs against the proposed rezoning of land on Palmers Island were removed on Friday night, 15th June, 2019.

"Imagine what could have happened if a horse or cow got out onto School Rd," property owner Naomi Connock said.

"A car at high speed hitting a fully grown animal would have been catastrophic. Whoever did this needs to be caught. It's a criminal act."

Yamba Welding and Engineering owner Bill Collingburn said he did not condone Friday night's actions.

"We don't condone that sort of thing," Mr Collingburn said.

"Most definitely it didn't come from our people. My staff have been told right from the word go when those signs went up to be respectful. They wouldn't do that sort of thing.

"I can't control my staff on what they put on social media, but I have told them to be respectful.

"There's a lot of unhappy people out there, about the macadamia industry and other industries taking over the farmland.

"If you drive down Palmers Island there's a lot of development going on. This is an agricultural zone that's been under cane for many years, now macadamias. It's not a bird sanctuary by any stretch.

"All we're asking for is the same latitude. Let the facts speak for themselves.

"I reiterate that if anyone has any concerns, they should talk to me. This is only a rezoning, not the final DA. If they're that upset about it, we can compromise on the DA."

The rezoning proposal is on display until July 12 at clarence.nsw.gov.au/onexhibition