17 September 2017
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.
The TCT said that the Major Projects Legislation proposes a process for fast tracking developments either at the request of proponents or through ministerial call-in powers, taking them out of the hands of local councils and other regulators and having a government appointed panel make an assessment and issue permits.
'Contrary to the Minister's public claims, the legislation will provide him with new powers to take the proposed 210 metre high Fragrance Tower development away from the Hobart City Council and have it fast tracked with no possibility of appeals.'
'He can do the same for the proposed Launceston Fragrance hotel.
'The Minister changed the legislation to state that a high building cannot be declared a major project solely because it fails to comply with council height limits, but as long the Fragrance skyscrapers fit one of the many major projects criteria they will be fast tracked.
'The biggest problem with this legislation is that virtually any project could fit the criteria for a major project, and be fast tracked, if in the "Minister's opinion" the project fits the criteria.'
'The legislation fails to put a limit on the scale or type of projects that fit the criteria for a major project.
'Just looking at the first criteria, virtually any project the size of a housing subdivision or larger could be a major project on the basis of it making a "significant financial or social contribution to a region or the state" (Section 60H).
'The other major problem with the legislation is that the community will have no right of appeal over approvals, including people directly affected by a major project, and even no right to challenge the merits of an approved development through the Supreme Court.
'While Minister Gutwein will make much of the requirements for public consultation, the community will have no right to challenge the final approval of a development to the appeals tribunal or the Supreme Court.
The TCT said that for example, if the Minister fast tracks the 210 metre high Fragrance hotel proposed for Hobart, the community could only mount a legal challenge on the basis that the assessment process did not follow the law, but cannot challenge it because it is too high for Hobart.
'The Minister has seriously mislead the Tasmanian people about appeal rights, by claiming in the Discussion Paper released with the draft legislation that "No changes to existing appeal rights under the Act are proposed" (page 11).
'The Minister's proposed legislation will remove appeal rights from a much wider range of projects than are currently excluded by Projects of Regional Significance Legislation, on which this legislation is based.
'This massively reduces the community's right to appeal developments to the tribunal and the minister is trying to hide this change from the Tasmanians.'
The Major Projects Legislation Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (major projects) Bill 2017 and Consultation Paper were released for public comment on 28 August 2017 with comments due on 2 October 2017. To date there has been no attempt by the government to inform the Tasmanian people of what these changes involve and no attempt to encourage or assist people to make submissions.
The TCT encourages all concerned people to make submissions by the 2 October deadline, including via the TCT's web site.
Tasmanian conservation Trust
0406 380 545