Noosa's future look on line with planning court changes

WORTH FIGHTING FOR: Sunset from Noosa Lookout.
WORTH FIGHTING FOR: Sunset from Noosa Lookout. Geoff Potter

NOOSA'S activist associations will be looking on nervously this Tuesday when state parliament is listed to deal with controversial planning amendments.

Leading Noosa lobby groups fear the recommended changes, if adopted, could kill off court challenges by community groups to developments considered detrimental to the local environment and lifestyle.

Among the more than 30 Noosa submitters to the Sustainable Planning and Other Legislation Amendments Bill, which would allow costs to be awarded against losing parties in the planning and environment court is the Noosa Residents and Ratepayers Association.

NRRA, along with other key Noosa community groups, has argued strongly to a parliamentary committee for this amendment to be scrapped.

There is a strong Noosa consensus that a change to the previous planning court practice of each party paying their own costs, would "in effect take away the ability of individuals, community groups or even local councils, from being able to object to unsuitable developments".

"Without doubt, this is the greatest threat to democratic process that we have seen for a long time," NRRA spokesman Stan Chandler said.

"It is all very well for the government to say that people will still have their democratic right to object. That is true, but who could afford to risk bankruptcy to do so no matter how vital the matter is to the community or much against the public interest a proposed development may be?"

Mr Chandler believes the change would advantage developers who can spend "hundreds and thousands of dollars, even millions in preparing and fighting cases".

"Noosa would certainly not be what it is today if this proposed amendment had been in place before," Mr Chandler said.

He believes developers will be given "carte blanche to do what they like" if even councils believe they do not have the budget to mount a losing legal challenge.

The NRRA is urging people to contact member for Noosa Glen Elmes so he can voice their concerns to parliament.

Topics:  planning court

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