Pressure mounts on council over repealed environment laws
Pressure continues to mount on Gympie Regional Council over its controversial decision to repeal environmental planning laws, with the Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council calling for State Government ministers to intervene or for the government to expand its own conservation laws into the region.
The not-for-profit group on Wednesday called for Deputy Premier Steven Miles to use powers under the Planning Act to reinstate two Temporary Local Planning Instruments removed by councillors in December.
They were thrown out amid concerns the laws were overly restrictive and causing unintended consequences for what would be otherwise acceptable development.
The decision sparked protests and outcries from environmental groups; a Change.org petition also urging state intervention has garnered more than 44,000 signatures in the three months since.
WBBEC president David Arthur said without the TLPIs the region’s koalas were under serious threat.
“This threat is especially concerning on the Southside of Gympie, where housing developments are taking place in areas where koalas have been observed living,” Mr Arthur said.
“In mid 2020 the Gympie Regional Council was awarded the Queensland Keep Australia Beautiful Award for Environmental Sustainability because of the TLPIs and their Koala Conservation Management Plan.
“The present council should publicly relinquish that award, since its retention is inconsistent with cancellation of the TLPIs.
“In the absence of operating TLPIs then the dire conservation status of koalas demands that the Queensland Government extend the South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy to the Gympie Region as a matter of urgency, and ultimately to the entire Wide Bay Burnett.”
Gympie council CEO Shane Grey said on Wednesday the council had outlined its reason for the laws’ repeal in the past, and that position had not changed.
These included that the repeal was not about placing development above environment protection, despite claims to the contrary, and the council had a “clear and strong” position to balance biodiversity with the environment.
“The TLPI wasn‘t the right mechanism to do this, however this is an area of importance and we’re asking community groups, experts and the wider community to help inform and implement the right process that allows both growth and the protection of our environment,” Mr Gray said in December following the repeal.