The community continues to oppose plans by the Tasmanian government to radically increase private commercial development in the state’s national parks and World Heritage Areas.

However, the government continues to push ahead with it’s anti environment agenda. Now it’s proposed Major Project Legislation is back for a third time and this version should ring alarm bells for everyone concerned about protecting wild places.

Main concerns about the legislation when it comes to wild places like World Heritage Areas include:

  • The Major Projects Bill gives the minister total power to declare a major project which removes it from the normal local council planning process, and virtually any development that would normally go to a local council could be declared a major project.
  • All controversial projects around Tasmania such as the cable car on kunanyi/ Mt Wellington or the Lake Malbena Helicopter proposal could be fast tracked.
  • The community will have no right to appeal against the approval of a major project and will have limited right to have input.

Please make a submission – we have until May 15 2020.

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust (TCT) has created resources to help you make a submission.

For extra information and details on making a submission (including a pro forma submission), please check here.

The following information comes from the TCT:

Making a submission:

You can create your own submission by writing in the submission field (cut and paste from the points we have included and add your own comments); OR

Leave the submission field blank and we will send a pro-forma submission on your behalf which includes all the points listed.

SUBMISSION ON THE DRAFT TASMANIAN MAJOR PROJECTS BILL

I oppose the Draft Tasmanian Major Projects Bill (MPB) for the following reasons and recommend that this undemocratic legislation be abandoned.

The Government has too much power when declaring major projects

The Major Projects Bill gives the minister total power to declare a major project which removes it from the normal local council planning process. The Tasmanian Planning Commission ‘may’ produce guidelines but even if they do the minister only has to “have regard to” them and doesn’t have to follow them.

Any project which has been refused by a council or the Planning Appeals Tribunal could be later declared a major project and potentially approved. Used in this way, the legislation greatly reduces the relevance of the Planning Appeal Tribunal.

Virtually any project could be a major project

The Major Projects Bill allows virtually any development that would normally go to a local council, from a subdivision to a pulp mill, to be declared a major project. The eligibility criteria are so broad and open to interpretation by the minister that he can justify virtually any project as a major project.

All controversial projects around Tasmania could be fast tracked including – Cambria Green on the east coast; the Fragrance skyscrapers in Hobart and Launceston; Lake Malbena Helicopter proposal and other developments in the world heritage area; and cable cars proposed for Mt Wellington, Mt Roland and Cataract Gorge.

Development Assessment Panels are not independent

There are many checks and balances that apply to the Tasmanian Planning Commission that ensures it operates in an independent, transparent and evidence-based manner. For 23 years it has maintained a high level of community trust. There are insufficient checks and balances on the Development Assessment Panel who may be open to unfair influence from the proponent or state government.

Independent Tasmanian Planning Commission is sidelined

Despite comments by the state government, the independent Tasmanian Planning Commission will not be assessing and approving major projects. All the power to assess and approve developments is given to a Development Assessment Panel that may include no Tasmanian Planning Commission person.

The only safeguard that exists is that the development assessment panel members must be approved by the independent Tasmanian Planning Commission but this could change after the government’s current review of the Commission.
No justification for more major projects or fast tracking powers

Tasmania doesn’t need more fast tracking powers. The government has not made the case for why new major projects powers are needed. The Major Projects Bill is intended to replace the Projects of Regional Significance process but no details have been provided about what is wrong with PORS. Tasmania has Projects of State Significance legislation which is a credible process for large and complex projects – and was successfully used to approve the Basslink cable.

Highrise buildings clause removed

The previous draft of the Bill partially addressed community concerns by excluding highrise hotels as eligible projects, but the clause has been removed from the latest draft.

No right of appeal and limited community input

The community will have no right to appeal against the approval of a major project and will have limited right to have input. Appeal rights provide the community with an avenue to have bad decisions reviewed and removing appeal rights for major developments greatly weakens our democracy.

Your elected councillors will be side-lined

The Major Projects Bill allows the minister to take developments away from local councils and approved by Development Assessment Panels. Elected councillors will not have a say over approval of major projects. The DAP members are unelected and the community will not be able to lobby them or vote them out.

Planning scheme changes can be forced on councils and communities

Under the proposed legislation planning scheme amendments can be forced on councils and communities. A major project can be approved that is inconsistent with a planning scheme and, after the permit is issued, the Tasmanian Planning Commission must amend the planning scheme to remove any inconsistency. The proponents of Cambria Green may use this path.

If developers have planning scheme amendments refused by the Tasmanian Planning Commission, they could go through the major projects process and have the Commission’s decision overturned. The legislation subverts the role of the Commission in the same way as it subverts the Planning Appeal Tribunal.