Valley land release delayed

MARY Valley Renewal Team spokesperson Glenda Pickersgill is urging for case-by-case negotiations with landowners, who were bought out to make way for the now scrapped Traveston Crossing Dam, after the Department of Infrastructure and Planning announced land purchased by QWI wouldn’t be released for sale before 2012 this week.

“These previous landholders believe there has been a decline in property values with cases of houses, sheds and fences being removed or needing maintenance, increase in weeds particularly giant rats tail or loss of established businesses that will take time to re-establish,” she said. Ms Pickersgill said negotiations should continue with those who expressed interest in purchasing their properties back.

“They have been through over four years of uncertainty and trauma, and obviously want to remain in the Mary Valley.”

A spokesperson for Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe said the State Government promised not to cancel any leases as part of the buy back scheme.

“There are over 500 leases and tenancies and 229 are leased back to former owners. Over 300 of these will not expire before the end of 2011, which means the earliest practical date for land sales is expected to be 2012,” the spokesperson said.

Leases expiring before the end of 2011 are being held over as periodic tenancies as “it is good practice not to have properties vacant and susceptible to vandalism and pests,” and others don’t expire until a long time after 2011.

As part of selling off the land an environmental investigation and programming work to “bolster the natural environment of the Mary River” is being completed and is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

“The State Government intends to take the required time to consider broader environmental matters such as habitat and fauna corridor protection and creation of nature refuges and riparian land protection. It is no small task to assess over 500 properties and there is only one chance to get it right,” the spokesperson said.

Ms Pickersgill, said the news gave some certainty to landholders who had leased back their properties, but there was still uncertainty.

“It is encouraging that the State Government intends to consider broader environmental matters...before releasing the land back on the market and it is understandable that this will take time to plan. However there continues to be an urgent need for some of the houses in the town of Kandanga and small rural residential blocks at Carters Ridge/Ridgewood and Federal areas to be released back on the market before 2012 to allow for rebuilding of communities.”

Mary Valley Renewal Team member Cr Jan Watt said if the department took 18 months for environmental planning it would mean six years of instability for the Mary Valley.

And while she did support proper planning the department needed to start releasing residential and farming land as soon as practicable so a permanent community could be rebuilt to invest in the future of the area.

Gympie Times

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