CONSTRUCTION crews were forced to stop work at a south Orange site yesterday when Orange City Council staff discovered the developer had not lodged a development application.
Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange (ECCO) president Nick King also expressed his concern over the development, telling the Central Western Daily he’s worried about the future of a wetland on the site because it’s a waterway that drains into Blackmans Swamp Creek.
Council spokesman Allan Reeder confirmed council had received a complaint about the work being undertaken on the privately-owned land near the corner of Dalton Street and Ophir Road, and had undertaken a site inspection.
Mr Reeder said there were limits to how much earthworks a landowner could undertake without council approval, especially if the work had the potential to affect drainage lines and the movement of stormwater onto neighbouring properties.
“Council staff visited the site yesterday and delivered a letter ordering the work to stop and for erosion controls to be put in place,” Mr Reeder said.
Mr Reeder said council staff were confident the landowner would comply with the orders and put erosion controls in place.
“Anyone who doesn’t comply with such an order such as this risks a fine of up to $1500,” he said.
Mr King said ECCO challenged the notion the wetland was of little environmental value. He said it formed an important drainage line, was a buffer for high and low rainfall events, supported many birds, frogs and aquatic life, and was a typical habitat for Latham’s snipe.
“Orange City Council staff do their best to guide best environmental practice when it comes to urban development, but many environmental decisions are open to challenge from developers who frequently place the maximisation of profit above environmental sustainability,” Mr King said.
Mr King said Orange had a great opportunity in the design of the future south Orange development “to avoid the environmental problems encountered in previous developments”.
“However, for this to happen there must be strong environmental support in planning legislation at state and local levels,” he said.
A concerned resident, who lives near the development and asked not to be named, said he noticed bulldozers pushing soil over the wetland late last week and on Monday, February 3.
“What has occurred is nothing short of environmental vandalism,” he said.
“The landholder has shown little regard for the watercourse and native animals that depend on it.”
The Central Western Daily’s attempts to contact the developer were unsuccessful.