Protect our heritage
By SALLY GORDON
BIRRIGAN Gargle Land Council sites officer Ken 'Fox' Laurie is calling for improved communication between landowners, local and State governments, and the indigenous community.
Mr Laurie's request for better links between the groups follows the purported discovery of an Aboriginal midden on the Oyster Channel foreshore at West Yamba.
Mr Laurie claimed the land council had heard nothing since the site was located and reported to authorities over a month ago.
The sites officer fears further work on the land could disturb the potential midden and a possible burial ground, described by a Maclean-based archeologist, who he declined to identify, to be up to 1000 years old.
"The first thing we need to do is to communicate with the landowner and the Government," he said.
"We need to make it clear to the landowner that Birrigan Gargle would like to be called in before any further work on the land goes ahead.
"The site needs to be protected and restored."
Mr Laurie said that after having a look at the site it appeared as though land clearing had taken place directly where the potential midden was located.
Clarence environmental group Valley Watch reported the shell remains to Mr Laurie after an on-site inspection of a vegetation corridor or riparian zone on Oyster Channel.
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Valley Watch chairperson Helen Tyas Tunggal said the group had been asked to look at what had been reported to them as an incident of unlawful clearing on the property which took in the midden.
The site inspection has prompted Valley Watch to write to NSW Minister for Planning Frank Sartor again, expressing disappointment about the Clarence Valley Council's decision to reduce the size of the riparian zone in the proposed development of West Yamba.
Ms Tyas Tunggal told the Minister that disturbance to the potential midden site 'could possibly have been prevented with appropriate and decisive guidance from councillors'.
"I believe the majority of councillors continue to go against the advice of their own planning department ... they've overturned a recommendation of the council's environment and planning committee and chosen to ignore the Minister of Planning's recommendation," she said.
"I'm extremely disappointed in the message a number of councillors are sending to landowners by not accommodating the need to keep a riparian buffer zone of at least 100 metres."
Mark Lawson who is the owner of the 18.2-hectare parcel of land west of Carrs Drive, reiterated his claim that the pile of shells were the remnants of an extensive oyster cultivation and manufacturing industry, which started after 1850.
Mr Lawson yesterday declined to comment on land clearing issues, saying the matter was being handled by the State Government.