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Alstonville News

Fighting for our farmland

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Wollongbar NSW
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Fighting for our farmland

By Samantha Elley

Talk to a local from the plateau and they will tell you that Wollongbar and Alstonville are two very distinct villages.Despite attempts over time to develop a significant green belt of farmland between them, residents have stood their ground.

Wollongbar Progress Association’s Marilyn Perkins is across the history of the land preservation in the area.

Wollongbar Progress Association’s Marilyn Perkins

Wollongbar Progress Association’s Marilyn Perkins

“I have been involved since 1984,” she said.

“When Ballina Council did up their draft Local Environment Plan (LEP) and put it on exhibition, we hand delivered a survey to all homes in the Wollongbar and Alstonville plateau to stop them rezoning the area for industrial development.”

When the survey was collected, Ms Perkins said it was clear residents did not want the land developed and the preservation of this prime agricultural area was enshrined in the Ballina Shire Council’s 1987 LEP.

“It is disappointing that Ballina Council staff would consider (rezoning the land for industrial use) at this time,” she said.

“They already have eight hectares zoned for industrial development at Russelton, there’s (land for redevelopment) at Southern Cross Industrial estate and six hectares at Ballina Industrial Estate.”

A submission by the Wollongbar Progress Association in regards to the latest exhibition of the Sustainable Urban Growth Area Review (SUGAR) states:
“Community feedback on the Wollongbar Strategic (Draft) Plan in 2018 indicated continued high support for preservation of the green buffer, with 74% of survey respondents supporting no incursion.”

The association was also concerned with the Wollongbar Strategic Plan Survey that was sent out asking locals what they thought of plans to rezone the area.

“The survey question was framed in such a way that did not indicate any green belt incursion, or the designation of the land in question, in such rezoning. Respondents were asked their view on:
Consideration of the easterly expansion of the Russellton Industrial Estate to provide an additional 23ha of industrial land,” the submission said.
The association said many supported this, as there was no mention that the land was mapped as State Significant Farmland, or of buffer incursion.
A spokesman from Ballina Shire Council said they have made recommendations for rezoning some land.
“While we have enough land for residential use, we don’t have enough for industrial use within that next 10-20 years,” he said.
“We have enough for current needs, but when we project that in 10-20 years, we will run out.”
The spokesman admitted all submissions so far, regarding the land were in favour of leaving it alone and not to develop it.
“We are going through these submissions now,” he said.
“There will be a briefing with councillors to talk about the history and all submissions will be reported to the council meeting to decide if it will be earmarked for future development.”

Read the full story here or online

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Alstonville News

Northern Rivers Koala Hospital needs funding: Urgent appeal for support

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A koala being treated at the Northern Rivers Koala Hospital in Lismore
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Northern Rivers Koala Hospital needs funding: Urgent appeal for support

 

By Sarah Waters

Koalas are becoming an increasingly rare sight in NSW and the one organisation that is dedicated solely to their care in the Northern Rivers is desperately trying to keep operating as normal.

The Northern Rivers Koala Hospital, operated by Friends of the Koala, has made an urgent plea for financial support.

A decline in donations and available funding has threatened the hospital’s ability to operate effectively.

The hospital is specifically designed for the medical treatment of koalas and is the only wildlife hospital in NSW licensed to vaccinate all treated koalas against Chlamydia – the number one cause of death for koalas in the Northern Rivers.

General manager of Friends of the Koala Silva Everaers said more than 350 Koalas are treated at the hospital each year.

“From July last year we’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in koalas coming in, versus the year before,” Ms Everaers said.

“It will continue to increase as the threats to koalas are increasing with climate change, natural disasters, habitat being destroyed causing more koalas on the road, which leads to car hits, dog attacks and more diseases due to stress.

“So that’s obviously concerning, and it has been really, really busy for our volunteers rescuing and caring for them,” she said.

The Northern Rivers Koala Hospital was formed in 2019 and is part of the wider Friends of the Koala (FOK) organisation.

The FOK organisation receives government grants for certain projects including a recent grant to vaccinate 300 koalas against chlamydia.

But no government money is received for the operational cost of the koala hospital.

General Manager of Friends of the Koala and Northern Rivers Koala Hospital Silva Everaers

General Manager of Friends of the Koala Silva Everaers

Half a million dollars needs to be raised by Friends of the Koala each year to cover the hospital’s annual operating expenses.

It is set up with diagnostic and treatment tools including ultrasounds, x-rays, a blood bank, as well as surgical and pathology equipment to provide specialised 24/7 veterinary care to koalas.

Until more funds become available the hospital may not be able to continue in its current capacity.

Ms Everaers said the priority was to keep the hospital funded and veterinary staff paid.

“That really is where the research and the magic happens,” she said.

“We work with over 300 volunteers, who do an absolutely incredible job rescuing and rehabilitating the koalas treated in our hospital, and because of that we are able to keep operational costs really, really low.

“But we can’t do it without financial support, in the end, there’s medicine, veterinary staff, the equipment we need, research facilities – it’s not free.”

Friends of the Koala have set up a special donation drive, appealing to the public’s generosity to help keep the hospital in operation and maintain their high standards of care.

Anyone with a heart for wildlife, including business owners and philanthropists, can become a ‘Friend of the Northern Rivers Koala Hospital’ at: friendsofthekoala.org or support by donating to the organisation.

Friends of the Koala are a grassroots organisation with more than 35 years of experience working on critical, on-the-ground activities to conserve habitat and protect koalas individually and as a species.

It originated as a charity focused on planting trees but has evolved into a multifaceted organisation that also provides 24/7 koala rescue, medical treatment, research, advocacy and community education.

Friends of the Koala has successfully rehabilitated and released over 2000 koalas back into the wild since its inception.

The Northern Rivers is home to one of the last significant, genetically diverse koala populations.

 

For more local news, click here.

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Alstonville News

Alstonville opens new sporting facility

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'Picklers' test the new Alstonville pickleball courts prior to Saturday's opening
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Alstonville opens new sporting facility

 

Last Saturday’s drizzling rain didn’t dampen pickleball enthusiasts’ excitement when eight new outdoor courts were officially opened at Alstonville.

The tournament-standard courts have been developed by Alstonville Tennis Club at a cost of over $350,000, and were largely financed by the NSW government, complemented by $131,000 from the Club itself.

The Club’s President, Nathan Kempshall, said, “Pickleball is emerging as an extremely popular sport Australia-wide. The Northern Rivers has an increasing number of indoor courts, but major tournaments are played outdoors, so our Club wanted a top class outdoor facility”.

President of the NSW parliament’s Legislative Council and Northern Rivers local, Ben Franklin, cut the ribbon to officially open the courts. “Ben had keenly supported the Club’s application to the state government for funding, and we were delighted that he could officiate on the opening day,” Nathan said.

Although developed by the Club, the tennis and pickleball courts, which are adjacent Lumley Park, are a Council-owned community asset. Ballina mayor, Sharon Cadwallader, strongly commended the Club’s committee for its vision and commitment in bringing the project to fruition. Tennis NSW, and state and national pickleball associations were also represented at the opening.

Club members were even more thrilled when Tamara Smith MP announced an extra $95,000 state grant for extension of their club house at Wollongbar Sports Field’s tennis complex, which the Club also manages on behalf of Ballina Shire Council.

The Club’s membership has grown substantially in recent months, largely due to pickleballers, or ‘picklers’, joining. The new courts have already been tested by picklers from across the region, and leading local and Queensland players put on an exhibition match at the opening.

“Clubs like the Alstonville Tennis Club play a pivotal role in our regional communities, encouraging the community to be engaged and promoting a more healthy and active lifestyle,” Mr Franklin said.

The new Alstonville courts have an acrylic surface on a cushioned concrete base, and are permanently marked for pickleball. Spectator areas are well provided, and LED lighting has been installed for night play.

Pickleball originated in Washington state, USA, in 1965. It is played using solid bats (‘paddles’) and a perforated plastic ball, across a net on a court about one third the size of a tennis court. Games are played as singles or doubles. Australia already has an estimated 20,000 players, and 163 clubs are affiliated with Pickleball Australia.

 

For more sports news, click here.

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Alstonville News

Summerland Farm Behind the Scenes Thursday 9 May

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Summerland Farm Behind the Scenes Thursday 9 May

 

Summerland Farm is opening their doors on Thursday 9am – 2pm to showcase the fantastic job vacancies they have for people with disability in the local area. I have included some information below – bit I also have 4 case studies of current employees if you would like to write a story before Thursday. If you would like to attend on Thursday please let me know and I will lock it in with the team.

With over 45 job vacancies for people with disabilities, Summerland Farm is opening its doors on 9 May, for a ‘behind the scenes’ guided tour of its many supported employment workplaces, and pathway programs.

A place of inclusion – Summerland Farm is one of the most successful disability enterprises in Australia, providing jobs for over 120 people with disability.

The public are invited to enjoy a guided tour, where visitors can meet the teams ,and enjoy demonstrations and experiences at each of the businesses.

Visitors can also find out more on Summerland Farms new School Leavers Employment Supports (SLES) program and School Work Experience opportunities available.

The businesses and employment opportunities on show include:

  • Restaurant & Functions – Kitchen hands, baristas, customer service, food preparation, events.
  • Retail Hub – Customer service, baristas, food preparation, ticket booth operators, food packing.
  • Animal Hub – Animal care, cleaning, feeding, and host animal encounters.
  • Horticulture – Fruit packers, fruit graders, forklift operators, macadamia sorting.
  • Farm Operations – Fruit pickers, machinery operators, ride-on lawn mowing, tractor drivers.
  • Administration – Customer service, computer work, invoicing, administration jobs.
  • Site Services – Keeping our gardens, lawns and customer area clean and tidy across the farm. Includes egg grading and packaging up eggs.
  • Facility Management – Lawn mowing, whipper snipping, weeding, leaf blowing, ride on lawn mowing.

Bookings are essential. Please book online here.

 

For more Local Northern Rivers Alstonville news, click here.

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NGULINGAH LALC MEMBER’S MEETING

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