REPOSSESSED: Anna Pedersen and daughter Tracey Menzies say Gympie Regional council has effectively taken their land, via excessive environmental restrictions which make even building one house an expensive process.
REPOSSESSED: Anna Pedersen and daughter Tracey Menzies say Gympie Regional council has effectively taken their land, via excessive environmental restrictions which make even building one house an expensive process.

The council change that shut residents out from their land

IT'S complicated, like all land use planning issues in fast growing areas like Southside.

But the simple reality for the owners of some larger properties between Groundwater and McIntosh Creek Rds, is that they can no longer use their properties.

Even to build one house on some of the affected land will now require them to engage environmental consultants to report, at their expense, on the impact of their plans on vegetation, koalas and other wildlife.

On at least one case, overlapping environmental restrictions cover the whole property.

"The council has repossessed our land but we still have to pay the rates," Tracey Menzies said of her family's 33ha block.

"We were never consulted about this."

Her mother, Anna Pedersen, said the family had owned the land for more than 40 years.

"We're being punished for not clearing it," Mrs Menzies said.

Similarly, Groundwater Rd landowner Brian Sansom and Sigma Development manager Lara Hallam (whose firm developed The Aspect) say they feel they have been unfairly treated.

"I've got nothing against koalas," Mr Sansom said, "but this is excessive.

"It's similar to the Traveston Dam issue and similarly, lives are going to be severely affected.

"The difference was Traveston Dam victims received compensation," he said.

Mr Sansom said he would have to pay thousands of dollars for a complex environmental assessment to do anything on his own land.

"We've owned the land for about 10 years," Lara Hallam said, "and we've always had the vision of developing it as population pressures move up from the Sunshine Coast.

"But that appears to have been wiped out. The value of the land mustnow be only about 10 per cent of what it was."

But a council spokeswoman said the use of interim planning restrictions, pending their incorporation into the region's planning scheme, was necessary "to ensure the immediate protection of biodiversity values."

The new requirements did not change the area's zoning, she said.

She said a risk had emerged of "unregulated clearing impacting on known biodiversity values, including koala habitat.

"No community engagement is required, she said.

Gympie Times


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