Greens blast Forest move

By PETER CATON

CONSERVATIONISTS are furious the NSW government has moved to take over planning powers for the giant Kings Forest development on the Tweed Coast labelling it a move to appease the Labor Party's "developer mates".

NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor announced on Thursday he was considering declaring the 1064ha Kings Forest estate inland from Casuarina Beach a "state significant site", allowing him to take planning control away from Tweed Shire Council.

But he has promised to first publicly advertise the reasons and allow public comment.

Conservationists have long argued the area is important for koalas, long-nosed potoroos and other endangered species including wallum froglets.

A government move to take planning control of the development, which is expected to eventually cater for 4,000 new homes, was expected by developers and conservationists after council administrators again deferred adopting a plan outlining zonings for the area.

The plan was originally drafted and put on public display in 2001 following years of wrang-ling over the site.

Yesterday Tweed Byron Greens Party spokesman Tom Tabart described the government move as appalling.

"It's another move by the state government to give themselves the power to help out their developer mates," he said.

Mr Tabart, who is also a Greens councillor with Byron Shire, said the Kings Forest move followed Mr Sartor's decision to take planning control over the huge Becton development at Byron Bay, allowing the government to override recently adopted council planning rules.

Mr Sartor on Thursday said he was acting "following two decades of indecision" about the future of the Kings Forest site.

He is understood to be angry the administrators have failed to approve the Local Environment Plan (LEP) which sets out in detail what areas should be zoned for housing, environment protection and other uses.



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