I AM appalled at the lengths that the Catholic Church is prepared to go to in order to bulldoze through their proposal to rezone 300hectares of land at Black Hill from ‘‘rural’’ to ‘‘industrial’’.
This is despite their awareness of the vehement opposition of the overwhelming majority of Black Hill residents.
The church has assiduously avoided meeting with the community to resolve the issue and has, instead, directly lobbied the acting Director General of Planning who, I understand, threatened to replace Cessnock council as the consent authority unless they forwarded the proposal straight to the gateway process. I consider this to be gross and heavy-handed interference in due process and a denial of our right to be heard. It is contrary to Planning Minister Brad Hazzard’s stated aim of having community consultation at the beginning of planning processes.
Although Cessnock council was doing their job and had already approved a community meeting, the threat was sufficient to derail this and to command their instant obedience.
The church should cease its concerted efforts to destroy the Black Hill environment and its community.