An on-site inspection was conducted by the NSW Land and Environment Court in evaluating the suitability of the proposed Nightcap Village.
An on-site inspection was conducted by the NSW Land and Environment Court in evaluating the suitability of the proposed Nightcap Village. Tweed Daily News

Barred frog find 'a joke'

CLAIMS that a rare frog could stop a new township west of Mt Warning have been rejected as a joke by developer Peter van Lieshout, husband of Tweed mayor Joan van Lieshout.

“It's such a joke really,” said Mr van Lieshout, who has proposed an environmentally sustainable township for 1000 people to be known as Nightcap Village midway between Murwillumbah and Nimbin.

“I've known people to plant things on properties just to get their case across.

“How can people find these things when they are not allowed on the property anyway?

“No official people have found them.”

Last week Caldera Residents Action Group president John Donvito who lives in the adjacent Kunghur area told Tweed Shire councillors he had four photographs of the rare giant barred frog found on the Nightcap Village site and it was illegal to do “anything that may impact on its breeding and lifestyle.”

Mr van Lieshout hit back, saying Mr Donvito had not declared “he is a failed developer”.

“I just want to remind people this area is just a cow paddock and has been for 70 years,” he added.

“There is no rainforest on it.”

“These frogs live amongst deep, damp leaf litter and breed along rocky streams. If per chance these frogs were there then they would be living on the edge of the Tweed River, which has a 50-metre buffer on both sides as a condition.”

Last week's Council meeting was told by another opponent and nearby resident Dianne Wilder that the Council's approval of the township along with other pro-development decisions threatened the shire's environment.

“I don't know what else I'm supposed to do except chain myself to a tree to stop this development going ahead,” Ms Wilder said.

Uki resident Donovan Burton, who described himself as a climate-risk consultant for insurance companies, warned the Council could be sent broke by a class action from future residents of the township if they find they could not get insurance.

Mr Burton said he would advise insurance companies against offering insurance there because the township would be on “high-risk fire-prone land” as well as being at risk of floods and hail damage due to the effects of climate change.

The Council was asked to reconsider conditions for approval of the township after the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change recommended several additional conditions.

Cr Joan van Lieshout declared a conflict of interest, leaving the meeting to be chaired by Cr Longland, who quickly sought to reduce the township's future population from 1000 to 500.

“We have a series of world heritage-listed features in this caldera, and this village infringes on some of those,” he said. “This village as it is proposed is too large. A village of 500 is still going to be large... at least two-and-a-half-times the size of Uki.”

He received support only from Cr Milne, who berated other councillors.

“I really don't understand where the other councillors are coming from,” she said.

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