State could step in on council environmental protections
A PUSH is on for the State Government to intervene and reverse Gympie Regional Council’s controversial decision to repeal two environmental protection laws last week.
A change.org petition started by a “concerned resident” exploded yesterday with signatures soaring from around 3000 to more than 17,000 as of 5pm.
It has called on State Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon and Planning Minister Steven Miles to step in as “there is now no protection for wildlife and wildlife habitat on private land in the Gympie region other than the small parcels of land covered by state government vegetation management legislation”.
The region’s nine councillors are also listed on the petition.
They voted 6-2 to repeal the laws last week after being told by council staff there had been “unintended outcomes” since the two Temporary Local Planning Instruments were adopted in February this year.
Concerns were also raised about the process undertaken in developing the TLPIs.
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The petition said there was now “reason to believe that the doors to developers will be opened immediately, which means that we need to act now”.
The petition is asking the ministers to “demand that (the council) halt development and reinstate the TLPI in the region at least until adequate public consultation is undertaken and existing scientific evidence is examined”.
“These decisions by Council are ill-informed and not in the best interest of the region,” the petition states.
“They will benefit a few landholders and developers in the short-term, impacting wildlife and the resilience of Gympie’s already struggling natural environment for generations to come.”
Signatories joining the petition have come from not only across Australia, but from as far away as Mexico and the United States.
Former councillor Dr Daryl Dodt, who voted to adopt the TLPIs in February this year and has been harshly and controversially critical of the council’s repeal, disputed the claims by council staff in a message sent to The Gympie Times and posted on a page apparently run by him.
“There was never flawed planning and none of the TLPI contents stopped development,” Dr Dodt said.
Mayor Glen Hartwig said yesterday the council was already in consultation to work with the State Government on protecting the environment.
“We’re looking to work with all of them (stakeholders) so Gympie’s wildlife will be protected in perpetuity,” Mr Hartwig said.