A year has gone by and still nothing on the Rural Lands Strategy

As the shire sits in limbo waiting for a resolution to the Rural Lands Strategy our Gross Regional Product continues to plummet. Where are the 250 new dwellings, the farmlands being freed of red tape? A visit to Council's website for any update reveals nothing at all since August 2018. Nothing at all has been revealed since Council forwarded the planning proposal to the NSW Planning Minister requesting a string of changes be made to the Eurobodalla Local Environment Plan 2012, which sets out how rural land can be used in Eurobodalla. In March this year in the leadup to the State Election the Mayor was confident that a re-elected Liberal Party would see the Strategy signed. The Mayor, Liz Innes, told Ian Campbell of About Regional “As far as I am concerned there is only one party that has said they will support our rural sector and that is Andrew Constance and the Liberal Party,” “They are backing a vibrant rural economy, they are backing the people that want to supply beautiful rural produce, the Liberals will sign this document if re-elected.” Cr Innes said. Then Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts visited the shire in the lead up to the State election however, as reported by About Regional, much to the frustration of the Mayor he couldn’t sign off on the Strategy before the Berejiklian Government entered caretaker mode. “The Planning Minister wanted to come down and reassure our rural community, who have worked on our strategy for nine years, that he has been working through the concerns raised by [NSW Government] departments like the RFS,” Cr Innes said at the time “He was very clear in saying that he is now confident in signing it [Rural Lands Strategy] and that the concerns raised by those departments have been addressed. “And that, if elected, it will be the first document that he signs.” Following the election Anthony Roberts was re-elected however he moved on to a new portfolio and Rob Stokes became the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. With a long history in holding portfolios in previous governments as Minister for Planning, the Minister for Environment and Heritage and the Assistant Minister for Planning and with such a experience of planning matters it goes without saying tat Rob Stokes would be looking closely at the Eurobodalla Strategy in the context of the whole-of-state strategy and, as expected, be asking some fairly serious questions, especially around the fact that six State Government agencies and 500 submissions presented informed concerns over the Strategy. The discussions and outcomes around the recent meeting held between the Minister, the Member for Bega, the Mayor and Council's Planning Director are unknown however as we approach a year since Council posted any updated information we can only hope that Councillors and the Mayor might offer some indication of what is going on.

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