Tasmania’s environmental groups unite to call for action to stop destruction of east coast reefs by the long-spined sea urchin

“It is disturbing that while over fishing of large rock lobsters is acknowledged in the IMAS report as contributing to the explosion of the sea urchins the government’s forum does not have a speaker talking about the importance of large lobsters as a natural control on the sea urchins.”

Sea urchin spreading devastation at alarming rate on Tasmania’s east coast

New government survey shows long-spined sea urchin spreading devastation at alarming rate on Tasmania’s east coast. Urchin numbers are predicted to explode in the next three years threatening large areas of the marine environment and iconic fisheries. The area of reef habitat lost to the sea urchins is predicted to go from the current 15% to 32% by 2021.

Tasmanian Planning Policies Legislation a Positive Step 

30 November 2018 

The Land Use Planning and Approvals Act Amendments Bill passed the Legislative Council late yesterday enabling the creation of Tasmanian Planning Policies that have the potential to provide some long awaited policy direction to the Tasmanian Planning System.

The Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania, Tasmanian Conservation Trust and the Tasmanian Planning Information Network welcomed the state government’s Tasmanian Planning Policies legislation and hopes that Minister Roger Jaensch works with the broad Tasmanian community to develop the policies to give strategy direction to land use planning in Tasmania. The groups also urged the state government to develop state polices (under existing legislation) to address the most important issues facing Tasmania over the next decade. A mix of State Polices and Tasmanian Planning Policies will deliver the best results for the planning system.

PMAT coordinator Sophie Underwood said that “Since the Liberal Government commenced its reforms of the Tasmanian Planning System in 2014 our organisations have advocated for State Policies – critically because they bind all state government agencies - but we also believe that the state governments proposed Tasmanian Planning Policies can make a positive contribution if developed appropriately.

Tasmanian Conservation Trust Director Peter McGlone said “Our organisations support the TPP legislation following very significant amendments in the House of Assembly that were proposed by the Labor and Greens parties and supported by the government. The amendments address most of our concerns and importantly the amended bill won unanimous support in the House of Assembly.”

“The State Parliament has worked very effectively in the last few weeks and this bill is an important example of that.”

Tasmanian Planning Information Network Spokesperson, Anne Harrison said “The final legislation reflects the community’s interest to have greater input to decisions about planning and its demand for greater transparency and scrutiny on decisions made by ministers. “Tasmania faces many serious problems that are in large part related to decades or poor planning and the development of a mix of State Polices and Planning Polices is needed to address these problems.

Sophie Underwood added that “With the potential to develop Tasmanian Planning Polices, we hope the state government does not abandon State Polices. State Polices tend to deal with the most important issues that affect the whole state and critically bind all state agencies to uphold them and to assist with their implementation.”

Anne Harrison added that “The State Policies and Tasmanian Planning Policies can be used to answer fundamental questions about what the Statewide Planning Scheme is meant to achieve. If the minister chooses to effectively reach out to the Tasmanian community and develop policies that reflect the broader community’s interest then he can make a major contribution to Tasmanian’s long term future.

Peter McGlone added that “The Minister has it in his power now to set a new positive direction for the Tasmanian Planning System we look forward to working with him.” Our Alliance of 60 groups from across the State look forward to robust strong planning policies that are measurable and well integrated with all other planning instruments.

For Comment

Sophie Underwood, Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania 0407 501 999

Peter McGlone, Tasmanian Conservation Trust 0406380 545

Anne Harrison, Tasmanian Planning Information Network 0419 585 291

Rosny Hill public meeting Tuesday 17 July 2018: Speaking notes – Peter McGlone

Privatising a public reserve

Hunter developments proposal is just too large for Rosny Hill. When you add up the area required for buildings and infrastructure and the fire management zone that surrounds them, it will occupy and degrade more than 40% of the Rosny Hill Nature Recreation Area.

A development of this size will totally dominate the reserve and alienate most people who currently enjoy using the reserve for passive recreation and to get away from “developed” areas.

Most locals will simply not want to visit the reserve if the development is constructed.

If you do continue to visit the area surrounding the development it will be a much diminished experience: less bushland, 800 cars per day and people in accommodation looking at you.

Destruction of native vegetation

The development will result in a substantial area of eucalypt woodland and she oak forest being cleared. The area affect by the proposed development includes the car park and other cleared areas, but still around 25% of the reserve’s vegetation will be cleared or highly degraded.

Much of the effected vegetation will not be directly cleared to make way for the proposed buildings but it will be lost over time.  The vegetation surrounding the buildings will be fragmented and degraded by construction activity and, over time, it will be further degraded by fire mitigation works and trampling by thousands of visitors.

We compared a map of the proposed development with a distribution map of the endangered Leafy sun orchid. About half of the orchid population will be destroyed to make way for the development. The Rosny Hill population is the largest known population in Tasmania and is the only Tasmanian population found in a formal reserve. To do this to a threatened species anywhere is outrageous but to do it in a reserve is just beyond words.

A history of inadequate community consultation

The Council has treated the local residents horribly as they seem desperate to force an unwanted development on an unwilling community.

In 2014 the Council initiated a process to identify a preferred developer for Rosny Hill without first asking the community whether they wanted any development on the hill or. if they wanted development, what type of size would be acceptable.

This approach to community consultation is dishonest as the community is not given a choice in the critical first step – the Council presumably hoped that the proposed development would be seen as a fait accompli.

This approach is unfair as the community is put in a position of being unequal with the developers, having to fight against a development proposal they don’t want rather than being involved in planning one that it and a developer might support.

In 2015 the Council picked Hunter Developments proposal, ignoring the fact that is contrary to the Rosny Hill Management Strategy and over-ridding the very thorough and informed community consultation that the strategy was built upon.

The Strategy states that ‘Any proposal for development would need to’ ‘be located within the development zone areas defined by council’ (Page 39-40) – these are two small areas corresponding to the existing car park and a degraded area to the north of it (each only a hectare or two).

The Council’s preferred development is ten times as large as these two areas.

By proceeding with a preferred developer who proposes a development much larger than the areas identified in the Strategy the Council is being grossly dishonest.  The Strategy recommendation should be adhered to and any development restricted to the identified development zones.

In February 2016, 218 residents of Rosny and Montague Bay signed a letter to the Council calling for the Council to initiate a process to have Rosny Hill rezoned to limit all development to the two areas identified in the Strategy.

The Council refused to even put this issue on the agenda for discussion and most councillors to this day have refused to meet with concerned residents.

Concluding comments

For four years the Clarence Council has been ignoring the community – it is now time for the Council to listen to what the community wants.

The Minister for Parks and Wildlife Service, Will Hodgman confirmed in a letter to the Rosny Hill Friends Network in June that the council can grant land owner consent for a development. Well if Council can grant consent it can refuse consent and it should do so immediately and put an end to this inappropriate over-size development.

Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania Planning Policy Election Scorecard

The key findings from the scorecard process was that the Liberal Party is committed to changing legislation to limit who can take appeals over development approvals and have made many more developments permitted (which removes the community’s right to comment on and appeal developments). It also supports major projects legislation that would give the minister unprecedented powers to call-in developments, taking the assessment away from councils and removing the community’s appeal rights.

TCT and PMAT respond to the Greens Planing Policy

The Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust welcome the Greens Party policy on planning, Planning for People, which was released this morning."The Greens Party has responded to the community’s concerns that the Liberal government's planning reforms have gone too far, and addresses many of the fundamental concerns shared by our 58 member groups," said PMAT Coordinator Sophie Underwood.

Gutwein's Major Projects Legislation will deliver Fragrance Skyscrapers for Hobart and Launceston

The TCT said today that Peter Gutwein's Draft Major Projects Legislation, if enacted, will deliver the Fragrance Skyscrapers in Hobart and Launceston, against the interests of local communities.

'It seems that the purpose of the legislation is to fast track the approval of any development that is vehemently opposed by the community including the two massive Fragrance skyscrapers proposed for Hobart and the recently announced 70 metre high Fragrance hotel proposed for next to Launceston's City Park,' said TCT Director Peter McGlone.

When is it safe to swim in the Derwent River?

On 2 January the media widely promoted that the trans-Derwent swim had been relocated to Seven Mile Beach because of concerns over stormwater pollution in the Derwent. It was warm enough for a swim and I wanted to know if the cancellation of this race meant all beaches around the Derwent estuary were unsafe? The Derwent Estuary Program's 'Beach Watch' web page announced on 30 December 2016 that: 'Following recent heavy rain, water quality at most Derwent beaches has been poor - including at Howrah, Bellerive, Kingston, Blackmans Bay and Nutgrove/Little Sandy Bay. 

Parks and Wildlife Service audit

On 15 November 2016 the Tasmanian Audit Office tabled in Parliament the report No.5 2016 Park Management. The full report, summary and audio summary are available from the Tasmanian Audit Office web site. The Audit Office assessed the management of national parks and other reserves, focusing on important matters related to management of high value assets, weed, pests and diseases, fire and human safety.

Tasman Island historic buildings secretly opened for commercial development

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has for the second time this year exposed the Parks and Wildlife Service for misleading the Tasmanian pubic in changes to a National Park management plan. The PWS has proposed changes to the Tasman National Park management plan to allow commercial helicopter handlings on Tasman Island, but during the public consultation process, it failed to explain that the consequence of this change would also make the historic buildings on the island open for redevelopment for commercial accommodation.

Clarence Council risks $4 million on hazardous waste dump

If you live in Clarence you may not have heard that your Council has recently provided $4 million of Council’s money (rate-payers’ money) for the construction of a hazardous waste facility (or C-cell) near Copping, in the Sorell municipality (‘Tender let for C-cell’, 31 August 2016). The C-cell, approved in 2012, is permitted to receive a higher level of hazardous waste than normal landfill sites, including, potentially, all types of non-liquid waste except nuclear waste. Construction has not yet commenced. 

State government abandons threatened species

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has today called on the Tasmanian Planning Commission to recommend to the State Government that the approach being taken to conservation of natural values in the Tasmanian Statewide Planning Scheme is totally inadequate and devoid of contemporary scientific input and that the Natural Values Code in particular should be scrapped and started again.

Salmon farming at Okehampton Bay

On the eve of the submission period closing for the review of the proposed expansion of salmon farming at Okehampton Bay on Tasmania's east coast, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust has again questioned the independence of the Panel chosen by the state government to conduct the so called "independent review". The TCT has also revealed, for the first time, questions over the legal status of the review called by Minister Jeremy Rockliff which may mean the review will have no authority to bring changes to how fish farming occurs in this part of the east coast. 

Community, science and environment voices raise alarm

In the lead up to the final opportunity for consultation on the proposed new single Tasmanian Planning Scheme, a growing range of community voices are coming together to highlight key concerns with the direction of the changes and the alienation of the public in planning decisions. Next week the Tasmanian Planning Commission will hold hearings on aspects of the scheme.

Foreign Investment Review Board fails to see Tasmanian devils as being in the national interest

The TCT is disappointed that the Foreign Investment Review Board and Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison have approved the sale of Van Diemens Land Company without placing conditions requiring the buyer to retain all habitat for the Tasmanian devil. The current owners of VDL are dedicated to clearing more than 1800 hectares of forest at its Woolnorth property and converting it to dairy pasture.