FARMERS REJECT USE OF NATIVE VEGETATION OVERLAY IN RURAL LEP
At recent public meetings called by Eurobodalla Shire Council to allow land owners to consider the draft Rural Land Strategy (RLS) attendees voted decisively to reject the proposed incorporation of a native vegetation overlay in the rural local environment plan. Also, many farmers let council’s consultants know that they objected to the length of the process and the consultants’ failure to incorporate previous public comment in the strategy. Others said they resented the fact that they were being asked yet again to raise their concerns, which have been known to council’s planners for at least five years.
Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association spokesperson Councillor Liz Innes said, “Attendees could not have been clearer in their opposition to the use of the vegetation overlay in the proposed LEP. No one spoke in support of its use and members of the RLS committee spoke against it.”
“ While the strategy deals with the major issues raised by farmers in the past – E3 zones, smaller minimum lot sizes, and more housing entitlements it fails to come to grips with the fundamental issue – the least costly way for farmers to comply with legislated environmental restrictions on their private land. Remarkably, the consultant described a policy of protection of private property rights as “controversial” and likely to offend the planning bureaucrats“
“The ERA rejects the consultant’s argument that dropping the earlier proposed use of an E3 zone strengthens the need for a vegetation overlay as a helpful pointer to other legislated environmental restrictions. It is ironic that one reason given for this substitution is that it reduces the necessity for a higher level of map accuracy required for an environmental zone. Given the extensive legislated controls on farming operations these days, farmers and buyers of rural land (and their advisers) need to exercise ordinary due diligence in discovering all the restrictions applying to rural land. This is best done by reference to primary legislation rather than by relying on inaccurate overlays forming part of prescriptive and rigid land use planning regulations.’
Councillor Innes continued, “And given the farmers’ opposition to the consultant’s other proposals in the draft RLS I will be pressing the RLS committee to recommend to council the removal from the LEP of all E zones and overlays, all references to biobanking, voluntary biodiversity agreements and rural landscape guidelines. I will be supporting smaller lot sizes than are proposed and further housing entitlements on rural blocks. “
“Farmers know from long experience that guidelines and “helpful suggestions” from bureaucrats have a habit of being turned into black letter law over time. Overlays are not legally required and not used by many NSW rural councils”
Councillor Innes concluded “The views of the public meeting attendees were so strongly and clearly expressed that they must be acted on by councillors. I call on Mayor Brown to bring the RLS process to a swift conclusion by supporting the immediate completion of the LEP in line with the community’s wishes.