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NCA: Council stumbles again with consultation on Rural Lands Planning Proposal

In their latest media release the Nature Coast Alliance has called the latest stumble by Eurobodalla Shire Council on community consultation around the controversial Rural Lands Planning Proposal another damaging misstep. Council will now hear addresses at its upcoming meeting of 11th September from people who had made a submission but were not informed that the Rural Lands Proposal was to be determined at the Council meeting of 28 August 2018

Alliance spokesperson and convenor, Noel Plumb said “Council’s consultation on the Rural Lands Proposal has been a continuing farce. The fact is Council has failed to notify hundreds of people who had made submissions by its official cut off point of 22 June, itself highly contentious. "Perhaps as many as 40% of the 500 plus people who made submissions opposing the proposal were not notified. As the ratio of opposing submissions to supporting submissions was at least ten to one, Council’s opponents have been much more disadvantaged.”

“This does not include, as far as we can tell from Council’s official statements, the more than 600 additional submissions, perhaps as many as 900, which poured into Council until 28 August.”

Mr Plumb said. “We know that at least 600 of these additional submissions also opposed the Proposal. Most of these people could and should have been notified that the Council was determining the proposal on the 28th August. They could then have checked the Meeting Agenda and seen that the Council was likely to adopt the highly contentious Rural Lands Proposal with little if any real change despite the massive public protest and objections by critical NSW agencies including the Rural Fire Service, DPI – Fisheries, SE Local land Services.”

“And what good will further speakers do? It is a farce – Council has made its decision and Mayor Innes has made it clear she is not interested in modifying the current plan …. she is not to be turned?”

Mr Plumb continued “We now must rely on the Minister for Planning to correct Council’s obsession in relentlessly pursuing and adopting a Rural Lands Strategy that is actually a Coastal Development Strategy, driven by developers and a few large rural land holders who have been far too close to too many of the Councillors of the past six years.”

“What a shambles! Hundreds of people, perhaps as many as a 1000 have been denied the chance to attend the meeting and voice their disapproval as Mayor Innes and Council forced the Proposal through regardless of cautionary voices like the Deputy Mayor and the strong protests of an overflowing public gallery.”

“Deputy Mayor Mayne had sought a delay while Council met with the five or more expert State Agencies who had strongly criticised the proposal on various grounds including inappropriate zoning and misuse of good agricultural land, grazing of wetlands, long term impacts on biodiversity, water pollution, bush fire risks, all leading to severe damage to the booming oyster industry and the nature based tourism industry which have a combined economic value of more than $400 million dollars a year to the Shire.” said Mr Plumb, the convenor Nature Coast Alliance

“The community will not forget or forgive the stop start submissions process where Council tried to keep the matter “under the public radar” with a ridiculously short 28 day exhibition period. Council also avoided broad advertising, public information sessions or meetings and genuine notification on its home web page.”

“Council refused requests by a number of experienced community groups to provide 90 days for the exhibition and only reluctantly agreed to extend the period to 42 days at virtually the last minute.” “The exhibition itself was an enormously complex document of over 650 pages that was available physically in only three locations in the entire Shire. This effectively disenfranchised many who could not cope with such a document and many who did not have a high degree of computer literacy and expensive computers.” Mr Plumb concluded

#Council #Opinion #LocalStateFederal #Paper #Community

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