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Editorial November 22nd 2019

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

In a week that saw Mayors from thirteen bush fire affected councils sign a statement calling on the federal government to acknowledge the link between climate change and the catastrophic fires that have swept through NSW and Queensland with catastrophic outcomes to life, property and the environment we see our own Council issue a media release with our own Mayor, Liz Innes, saying how disappointed she was that local property owners, expecting to be allowed building entitlements and smaller lot sizes on in HIGH risk bushfire areas have been let down after NSW Government changes to the Rural Lands Strategy LEP amendment.

She said “We now know 10 property owners who previously did not have a building entitlement but were expecting one under the new LEP have had that potential removed because of the Department’s undisclosed change.

“While we’re pleased the Department has agreed to correct the other mistakes made in finalising the LEP, I remain astonished that such a significant change was made without informing Council or the property owners impacted. And yes, the changes made by the Department are minor in the context of the overall LEP amendment and we do need to focus on the opportunities it brings. But it’s unfair for these landowners who are local families and farmers who had hoped the rural lands reforms would allow them to build a home on their own land. They’ve been let down badly.”

The RFS and the Minister were adamant in signing off that they did not want to accept Eurobodalla’s proposed option and allow any buildings to be considered under a Development Application. Instead the Minister listened to his experts universally disallowed options for such developments in the LEP.

In simple terms Council wanted these rural land owners to think they might have a chance of a building entitlement ; and then have final plans drawn up, paying up front for a very expensive fire risk report done along with possible engineer assessments to then submit on the chance that staff might allow it. All at a considerable expense and a gamble that no doubt included expensive DA fees.

Sanity however prevailed. The Minister and the RFS, by denying the subdivisions and rural house entitlements, have made a clear statement that they do NOT consider such changes as safe, for the residents, for the environment, the public and the fire fighters who may have to defend the undefendable at extreme risk.

For Council to have even thought they could ‘try it on’ and then say how disappointed they are in these exceptional times beggars belief. Our Council refuses to acknowledge a Climate Emergency saying the weather is ‘variable and changing’.

Meanwhile 13 mayors up north think otherwise. Until next Lei

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