After forcing readers to endure a three page editorial last week looking at the Big-Enders and Little Enders in local politics this week’s editorial is short and to the point There has been much recent discussion around the Rural Land Strategy Proposal. The Strategy has taken five years to date with committees, consultation and reports all leading up to the NSW Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, signing off on it saying that in his opinion the Strategy, as he read it, met HIS approval and he was happy to see it returned to the community and councillors for final submissions, a report and then endorsement. Submissions have closed and that report with all the submissions is due to be completed by 7 August 2018 with the issue further discussed and considered at the council meeting on 28th August. In the batch of recent submissions are letters from two State Agencies. The Office of Environment and Health and Department of Fisheries. Both have reiterated their concerns around the strategy in very clear terms and both offer informed expert opinion that the Council appears to be dismissing. And Why would Council be so bold? On July 18th the Mayor, Liz Innes, was interviewed by Simon Lauder of ABC South East and she revealed through her answers that the Rural Land Strategy Proposal as it stands is pretty much a done deal. Simon, in his questioning offered to the Mayor that a number of state agencies are still putting forward their concerns in writing. He was then advised by the Mayor “the state government has already signed off on it so all of these" "We have heard all those concerns before … there is nothing new, we have all heard them. …. if the majority of councillors agree it will be done" When asked “are you satisfied that these concerns have been addressed"? “Absolutely – it is appropriate that government agencies at times bring up their concerns – we have addressed those concerns and the Minister has agreed with us.” So there you have it …. There is nothing new that they haven’t addressed from land clearing to waterway pollution, from having cows in wetlands to the risk of bushfire with new properties. It is expected that the councillors will have to wade through 500+ submissions including the submissions from the OEH and DPI that the Mayor dismisses as rehashed. Listening to the Mayor's interview you might believe that it is all done and dusted and if those agencies aren’t happy they should take it to the Minister who apparently has signed off on it. That then leaves the final vote to the councillors and it is already predicted to be unanimous decision in support of the Strategy simply because a vote against the strategy is a vote against the council planning staff and also a vote against the NSW Planning Minister and that would cause a ruffle in relations between Council and the State Government who, after all, are actually the ones in charge and calling all the shots, irrespective of what the ratepayers, or for that matter their own agencies, advise. Welcome to Democracy Version 1.4
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