7500 jobs for southern Lake

AEROSPACE, defence and vehicle industries, storage and distribution centres, laboratories and research centres, printing and publishing plants and manufacturers of machinery and equipment.

These are some of the businesses a $650million industrial development aims to attract to south Lake Macquarie.

The proposal to develop 150 lots on 260 hectares at Bushells Ridge has been submitted to the NSW Department of Planning.

The land is on the border of Lake Macquarie and Wyong local government areas and close to the F3 and Wyee railway station.

The Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, which owns the Bushells Ridge land, said in a planning report that its proposal would create job opportunities for Aborigines, particularly youth, in construction.

‘‘The proposed development will provide significant benefits to the Aboriginal community through sustained revenue that can be invested for the benefit of the community,’’ it said.

Darkinjung’s planning report said its proposal would create ‘‘up to 7500 jobs over the life of the project’’.

‘‘The Bushells Ridge Estate will create jobs to support future population growth,’’ the report said.

The land is next to Wyee, where 2000 new houses and an improved town centre are planned.

The nearby Morisset district’s population is planned to almost double over the next 20 years to 35,000 people, with the potential development of about 7000 dwellings.

The Bushells Ridge land was zoned for industrial development but a new draft zoning described the land ‘‘as being strategically located and subject to further investigation’’.

The investigation would define ‘‘conservation requirements and development potential’’.

The site fronts Bushells Ridge Road and is next to the proposed surface operations of the massive and controversial $1billion Kores coalmine plan, which aims to mine under Wyong valleys and Tuggerah Lake.

Darkinjung’s planners are in talks with Kores and a nearby quarry to provide road access from their land to a freeway link road at Doyalson.

The coal company is planning a rail connection in Bushells Ridge, with the potential for other industries to use it.

No built structures were on the Darkinjung site.

‘‘The majority of the site is largely flat, making it conducive to the construction of large-scale warehouses and distribution centres,’’ the report said.

The site has not been without controversy.

Darkinjung chairwoman Bronwyn Chambers said in a recent land council newsletter that the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water had tried to ‘‘lock the land up as a green corridor’’.

‘‘It was only through the extensive work of Darkinjung land council that we have been able to fight this decision and secure our land,’’ Ms Chambers said.

Darkinjung operations manager Suzanne Naden said the proposal was an example of how the land council project could benefit the whole community.

‘‘We think there are opportunities for everyone here,’’ she said. ‘‘We are presently just working through the processes to see where it leads.’’

Eucalyptus forest covers most of the land, except for electricity easements and four-wheel-drive trails, and there are some creeks.

Some threatened flora and fauna – including the masked owl, squirrel glider, wallum froglet, Tetratheca juncea and Grevillea parviflora – live on the land.

Southlakes Business Chamber and Community Alliance town co-ordinator Rosmairi Okeno said the development required lengthy investigation but it appeared to be a chance for employment, growth and development.

‘‘A large amount of investigation is required to determine any development proposal’s suitability for the land,’’ she said.

‘‘The provision of employment opportunities would be more than welcome and vital in the future support of population growth predictions in the South Lake Macquarie and Wyong districts.

‘‘It’s early days, and detailed information on the development is yet to be understood by the consenting authorities and the community, but establishing such a large facility so close to our district could only provide positive outcomes for future economic development.’’

Wyong councillor Sue Wynn said she was behind the initiative provided the Darkinjung had the future of the environment in mind.

‘‘My only question is will they make sure what is left will provide proper passageways for our flora and fauna,’’ she said.

‘‘Beyond that I’m more than happy to support it if it helps the economy across the Wyong Shire and the large population of Aboriginal people in our area.’’

Lake Macquarie MP and mayor Greg Piper said the proposal had his support.

‘‘I haven’t been overly involved in this development but I’m not aware of any issues or concerns with it, and if it creates employment in the local area then I think it will be good,’’ he said.

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