Public meeting calls for helicopter to arrive at Land and Environment Court conciliation conference over helipad at Trinity Point on January 29

LOCALS fighting the proposed addition of a helipad to the Trinity Point marina at Morisset Park have called for a helicopter to arrive at the site during a Land and Environment Court conciliation conference on Tuesday.

The conciliation conference, to be held at 10am, will be chaired by a commissioner from the Land and Environment Court.

Locals opposed to the helipad want the commissioner to see and hear a helicopter arrive and take-off from the site, so that they might better understand the residents’ concerns about the proposal.

If Lake Macquarie City Council wouldn’t charter such a flight, locals said they would consider passing the hat around to make it happen.

The idea was floated at a public meeting at Morisset Country Club on Wednesday presented by the legal firm Maddocks, who have been engaged to represent the council in Land and Environment Court proceedings involving Trinity Point.

The Trinity Point developer, Johnson Property Group (JPG), wants to add a helipad to its approved $388-million development.

There would be a maximum of eight helicopter movements a day.

But the proposal has stalled in both the Department of Planning and Environment, and at council.

So JPG has appealed to the court in separate matters involving the Minister for Planning, and the council.

The purpose of the conciliation conference on Tuesday is to seek “agreement or resolution” on any of the issues in dispute between JPG and the council.

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Maddocks partner and environmental lawyer Michael Winram told the meeting his firm had been engaged to “make sure your concerns are properly considered and understood by the council, the court and the developer”.

While emotions occasionally ran high at the public meeting on Wednesday, Mr Winram called for restraint on Tuesday.

“In my experience, objectors’ concerns are given more weight when presented in an orderly manner,” Mr Winram said.

“If you do want to come, you’re welcome. I just ask that you be respectful on the day.”

He urged locals to remain silent during the conciliation proceedings so that speakers could be heard. Microphones and PA systems weren’t usually available, he said.

Mr Winram said a limit of six speakers per side could address the commissioner on Tuesday.

The meeting heard the six speakers chosen to voice their reasons for opposing the helipad proposal at the conciliation conference were Tom Dumbrell, Irene Bates, John Quinlan, John Skewes, Tania Amway, and MP Greg Piper.

While locals at Wednesday’s meeting urged the legal team to take a hard-line approach to any negotiations with JPG, Mr Winram said he would take instructions from the council who was required to consider anything the developer offered.

“The council must participate in the conciliation conference in good faith. We have to go into it with an open mind,” he said.

Mr Winram said holding the conciliation conference on site would enable the community to demonstrate its concerns spatially, and to “point out where everything is”.

After the conciliation conference, both parties, their legal teams, and the commissioner would move into a confidential session, he said.

If an agreement was not reached after the conciliation conference, proceedings would move to “a contested hearing”, Mr Winram said.

The conciliation conference will be held at 71 Trinity Point Drive, Morisset Park, on Tuesday, January 29, at 10am.

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