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Boat builders given the slip

Concerns have been raised about the scale of a proposal from boat building company Yamba Welding & Engineering.
Concerns have been raised about the scale of a proposal from boat building company Yamba Welding & Engineering. Geoff Potter

RESIDENTS of Palmers Island are jumping in early to oppose an application to create a marine industrial precinct on the island.

About 50 Palmers Island residents met on Monday night to voice their concern at the scale of a proposal from boat building company Yamba Welding & Engineering to rezone a 21.22ha plot of land on the corner of School Rd and McConnells Ln.

Neighbours of the development Wayne and Bernadette Gilholm are co-ordinating the opposition to the proposal, which could involve selling their family home, which has been in Mrs Gilholm's family for five generations.

Mr Gilholm said a note on one of the planning documents notes their home and land is to "be acquired".

"It's the first we've heard of it," he said.

"No-one has approached us, although we've been told that's often the case with these sorts of developments."

The Gilholms have spent 10 years renovating the home but are now uncertain about their future.

"If this development goes ahead, staying here would probably be untenable for us," he said.

On July 23 residents in the Palmers Island Residents Action Group created a Facebook page to publicise their opposition to what they describe as the "creation of a heavy industrial precinct".

At its July 15 meeting Clarence Valley Council approved the rezoning from RU1 Rural Production to IN4 Working Waterfront and W3 Working Waterways.

The vote also sent the proposal to the NSW Government's planning Gateway process.

But councillors said the rezoning application was a long way short of a development application, which would be more difficult for them to approve.

However, residents want to halt the development before it gains momentum.

"Allowing the rezoning of the land is a dangerous precedent," Mr Gilholm said.

"This is prime rural land, which has been supplying cane to the sugar mill for 80 years.

"If this goes ahead, what's to stop similar developments popping up all over the place?"

He said the heavy industrial development, noise, air and water pollution, stress on local infrastructure, damage to fishing and tourism industries, increased erosion and worsened flood effects were all inevitable consequences of such a large scale industrial development.

Mr Gilholm said one of the action group's plans was for each resident to write a letter of objection to NSW Planning Minister Pru Goward.

He said in the meantime residents would have to live with the uncertainty of this proposal hanging over their heads and the consequent erosion of their property values.

Topics:  marine industrial precinct, palmers island, yamba welding & engineering

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