Green, councils fight over planning schemes

A BATTLE of wills has erupted between Local Government Minister Bryan Green and Northern rural councils who refuse to change interim planning schemes to make them state compliant.

Three councils have rejected Mr Green's orders to amend their interim schemes because they say that the watered-down versions would place millions of dollars in promised development in jeopardy.

Other Northern councils are holding on to their completed interim schemes rather than submitting them for ministerial approval while they await the outcome.

Meander Valley, Northern Midlands and West Tamar councils say that they have been let down by the Tasmanian Planning Commission after working on the new planning schemes with it. 

Several councils say that the interim schemes developed in concert with the planning commission would provide the flexibility for rural development that communities had sought for nearly a decade.

They say the reform process collapsed when the planning commission advised Mr Green that some completed council schemes would have to be amended. 

That was after the planning commission had sought advice from the Solicitor-General.

Neither Mr Green nor the planning commission will give the councils details of the advice. 

The councils say they won't change the schemes and that Mr Green will have to order the commission to make the  changes and face the ire of the community.

Mr Green said this week that he was prepared to direct the planning commission to make the necessary changes.

``[But] In reality the commission is working closely with the councils to resolve these matters including agreeing to review the regional land use strategy,'' Mr Green said.

The councils disagree.

Northern Midlands Mayor Kim Polley wrote to Mr Green before Christmas expressing concern that the council had spent more than $130,000 in 2000 staff hours over four years of active participation in the state government-driven planning reform process for no result so far.

The West Tamar Council said that the amendments sought by Mr Green did not consider the social and economic effects of the decision about use and development of land in the municipality. 

Meander Valley Council says that if the commission's proposed amendments go through it would take planning back to what it was before the reform process started.

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