Tackling a horny problem

By PETER CATON

DOES one of Australia's biggest development and property investment companies really need to run 45 cattle on a paddock at Cudgen?

That is the query confronting Tweed Shire Council administrators, millionairess grazier Lucy Turnbull and local farmer Max Boyd.

But it has turned out to be a multi-million dollar question involving more than a few cows.

Rival development companies have staked ownership claims, conservationists want the cattle kept out, and the land could become part of the biggest development ever mooted on the Tweed.

Mrs Turnbull has told council officers she is amazed a company the size of Leda wants to run such a small number of cattle on the site.

The Leda Group, which describes itself as "Australia's preeminent and most reputable private property investment and development company", wants to run the cattle on a piece of land known as The Cudgen Paddock.

The 280-hectare "paddock" covers one-third of the site for the proposed three-billion-dollar Kings Forest satellite city south of Kingscliff.

Conservationists claim parts of the paddock should be protected from development, partly because it contains threatened frogs and grass owls.

The NSW government has imposed an interim protection order over the site, which conservationists fear is about to be lifted before environmental studies are completed.

And just to make matters more complicated, the ownership of The Cudgen Paddock is being contested.

While Leda has staked its claim, Tim Barr, a former manager for previous owners, the Japanese Narui Norin group, has been arguing in court that he holds options on the land which are legally his to sell to Leda competitor Austcorp.

"I'm amazed a company the size of Leda would be interested in grazing 45 head of cattle," Mrs Turnbull told council officers at last Wednesday's council meeting.

Mrs Turnbull said she ran 1200 head of cattle in her "spare time" and knew cattle could do a lot of damage to the environ- ment.

Fellow administrator Max Boyd added: "It's not going to break the company if they don't go in there".

The council's chief planner, Noel Hodges, said Leda intended to graze 450 head of cattle on other parts of the property but wanted to put 45 of them onto The Cudgen Paddock where the previous owners abandoned grazing five years ago.

He said the council's solicitors had advised the ownership wrangle did not prevent the council from dealing with the application to graze the cattle which is set to go before the NSW Land and Environment Court.

The administrators decided to fight the issue in the court, provided the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation adds its support by the end of this month.



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