Battle flares again

By PETER CATON

THE multi-million dollar court battle between Tweed Shire Council and Gales Holdings has been reignited with renewed ferocity.

Less than a week after both sides agreed sitting around a table and talking would be a good idea, the council and Gales were again fighting each other in the NSW Land and Environment Court last Friday.

Gales has appealed against a council condition insisting it fence off trees to protect them from cattle on the site of the old Kingscliff sewerage treatment plant which it owns.

Earlier this month Gales won a court order allowing the company to graze the cattle there as part of an ongoing series of court battles against the council's refusal to allow Gales to build a district shopping centre on the site.

Yesterday Gales director Dr Stephen Segal said the company believed the council was "totally unreasonable" and would pursue the latest case in further court hearings.

A council spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Dr Segal said an offer by council chief administrator Garry Payne last week to talk with Gales "providing the discussions did not include issues before the court" seemed pointless because Gales was constantly being forced to go to court by the council.

He claimed council administrators appeared to have received misleading information from staff and the matter should be investigated by a royal commission. "This terrible state has flourished under the current and previous councils," he said. "There should be a royal commission into how this situation has been allowed to occur."

Dr Segal said the council was claiming a line of trees fronting the Tweed Coast Road on the edge of the property was an endangered ecological community, despite the council having cleared "over 95 per cent" of the site when it owned the property.

When Gales protested that the cattle needed the trees for shade, he said council told the company it should erect an open shed for the cattle and plant new trees for future shade, despite Gales previously declaring it only intended to temporarily graze cattle there.

A plea last week by the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association for the NSW Government to intervene in the ongoing row between Gales Holdings and the council is still under consideration.

A spokesperson for NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor who last week confirmed the department was considering the request was yesterday seeking further advice from the department on the request.



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