Protest signs against the proposed rezoning of land on Palmers Island.
Protest signs against the proposed rezoning of land on Palmers Island.

Last chance in controversial rezoning plan

IN THEIR last chance to convince councillors over a controversial application to rezone a part of Palmers Island, both sides made compelling cases.

The application to rezone waterfront land at Palmers Island to allow for the eventual expansion of Yamba Welding and Engineering has divided the Lower Clarence community and generated 183 submissions and two petitions.

Speaking against the proposal, Naomi Connock said there were appropriate sites for development at Harwood and the proponent "had been busy looking for reasons why the Harwood site was not suitable".

"A better investment for the proponents, councils and the public's time and money would be to look for solutions to the alleged barriers," she said.

"We urge Clarence Valley Council to support the proponent in relocating to Harwood, we want the jobs to stay in the Clarence Valley."

But YWE owner Bill Collingburn said there were a lot of "red herrings" being put out by those who did not want to see the proposal go ahead and he would not be moving to Harwood.

"It would be akin to telling Woolworths they would have to share their loading docks with Coles," he said.

"I have investors that are coming into this project with me. There is no way in the world they will go to Harwood if they cannot control their own destiny."

Mr Collingburn said he would be able to double the number of employees at a new site and within three years could triple it.

He said there were government defence contracts he could potentially fulfil and if he couldn't use the site at Palmers Island he would likely move his business out of the Valley.

"The Australian defence department has said 'let's build Australia' and we are already getting the benefits of that," he said.

However Ms Connock said those against the proposal were not against jobs in the Valley but objected to the need for the new site.

"Sound planning principles shouldn't be circumvented to support one individual business," she said.

"The proponent has been attempting to hold the Clarence Valley to employment ransom."

Before the Environment, Planning and Community Committee, council officers recommended the council note the proposal was legally invalid after conflicts with State Environmental Planning Policy No.55 and it was not legally bound to decide on it.

After councillor Debrah Novak's motion to accept the officers' recommendation failed to find a seconder, the matter was referred to the full council.