When the Gold Coast City Council released its proposed planning document the community was urged to provide feedback. Inexplicably during this consultation process the state government, without fanfare, suddenly deleted ALL industry separation buffer areas. All the original industry separation zones are now no more and the underpinning state planning policy document SPP 5/10 appears to have serious anomolies. To make matters worse, the state government also deleted all quarry separation areas on quarry land (except for a small area near The Plateau but this was only "indicative"). Buffers were severely decreased and push back on to residential land. Only when Council received over 650 objections did our local councilor and state representative try to tell everyone that they are now working overtime to change rules they have little control or influence over.
Severely shortchanging our community
The Council circular defined buffer zones distances were:
• Low Impact Industry – nil
• Medium Impact Industry – 250 meters
• High Impact Industry – 500 meters
• Special Industry – 1,500 meters
Quote: "By doing this, the draft plan provides a strong policy position on the preferred locations and separation/buffer distances for Medium impact industry and High impact industry land uses."
The Council Planning Committee, on which our local councilor sits, were required to accept/adopt a series of reports/resolutions/recommendations.
The state government demanded Council delete all original separation distances:
"...........State Planning Policy and associated State Interest Guidelines have been amended (July 2014). Amendments include the removal of Industry buffer guidelines (i.e. 250m, 500m and 1.5km default separations in the absence of a study)."
Residents were dismayed to find this out late in the public consultation process - Council was going to delete all industry buffer zones.
The mystery deepened when YRA investigated further.
Page 12 clearly shows there has not been any change to industry separation distances. In essence it appeared that Council was acting against state planning policy by agreeing to wipe away all industry buffer zones.
The concern is that the deletion of separation distances in SPP 5/10 by the Qld government will have a direct impact on all future plans by all councils in Queensland and ultimately will have a detrimental affect on every resident who is unfortunate enough to live close to industry.
The question remained: "Under what law was Gold Coast City Council required to drop all separation distances?"
The sad truth was then revealed. The LNP government had quietly passed new overarching state planning policy which rendered all SPPs redundant. Nothing on the EHP web site about this. The community, are as you would expect, devastated.
Likewise, the total deletion of civil rights in the Minerals and Resources Act has annoyed the community. Provisions in this act make it very unwise to complain or appeal against decisions made by government.
Meanwhile our local councilor acknowledges the community's unhappiness and promises to continue to push to get fairer separation distances for affected residents. Unfortunately no-one believes she has any power or influence to change state policy.
Our local state representative also promises to: "commit to continuing my efforts to bring back original industry buffer areas." Unfortunately the community also believes he has only limited influence.
So who will have the final say ? We will only know the answer when the GCCC 2015 City Plan, governed by our former LNP State Government, is finally signed off by our newly elected Labor state government. (We can only pray that they are astute enough to examine it thoroughly before committing pen to paper). And waiting in the wings waiting to be voted on is another penicious law drafted by the previous LNP government - the State Planning and Development Bill. Be afraid, be very afraid if this bill gets through.
The essential question remains - HOW will each development application be decided? The answer is currently - "On a case by case basis!"
So much for Council asking people to provide feedback about the proposed city plan. This is NOT a PLAN in any sense of the word.
Why ask for public feedback on a proposed city plan when crucial details get changed without notice late in the feedback process?
Why draw up a city plan when the plan suggests that development decisions will be made by the state on a "case by case" basis? A PLAN is supposed to define perameters. Making decisions on an individual needs basis is not a plan. Making decisions on a needs basis is fraught with difficulties.
Why are our local representatives telling us that they are rooting for our interests when it appears to the community that they have no influence and no clout (and they know that)?
Why is our local and state governments acting so unfairly in favour of business and against the moral rights of people many of whom purchased property in good faith before industry was set up and now find themselves being forced to live with the unhealthy fallout from noxious industry and quarries?
Why does Council continue to grant permission for residential developers to open residential estates so close to noxious industry?
Why is Council and state government allowed to rule on development applications when they themselves have a vested interest in the business of the commercial applicant (eg: contracts to recycle council rubbish tip green waste)?
Why are our local representatives so quick to demonstrate their unwavering support for dubious economic benefits of commercial operators and yet so reluctant to publicise the serious health effects from fallout from noxious industries and quarries that have been green lighted by government?
What does all the above mean in layman's terms and how will it affect all Queensland residents living near industrial estates?
We urgently need bio-aerosol monitoring stations installed but the State Planning Policy precludes any monitoring of dangerous life threatening fumigants and bioaerosols.