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Fire Tower Road Development, Koonya

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 7 May 2020

Tags: Planning, Tasman Peninsula

Fire Tower Road Development in Koonya: Rosalie Woodruff MP, 7 May, 2020


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I make some comments about a development application at Fire Tower Road, Koonya, on the Tasman Peninsula. Submissions to the Tasman Council closed today.

It has caused a great deal of concern amongst local residents who have come to understand the scale of this development application. They have also come to realise, unfortunately, that the Tasmanian Planning Scheme has been written and designed to ensure that they do not have a proper assessment of the full impact of this project. They have listed a huge range of issues with this development, which is intending to build a polo field and facilities, a vineyard, a cellar door, visitor accommodation and car parking. It will also involve vegetation removal.

That needs to be put into the context of being on a property that is located on a very narrow rural road, which has a very small number of residents. It is a large-scale development that has no place in the back road rural area that it intends to establish within. At the moment this is enjoyed by small-scale farmers and residents, some who have lived there for generations.

The planning scheme, as written, does not provide the opportunity for people to make comment about social impacts. It does not provide the environmental assessments which ought to be done on a development on this scale in this particular landscape. An environmental values assessment has not been required for this development, despite the fact that it is nearly surrounded by landscape that has habitat for the Tasmanian devil, and the threatened wedge-tailed eagles, and that vegetation clearing will be required.

It is a small, narrow, unsealed road that services the lot. This development would seek to attract a large volume of tourists, according to the proponent's application. It would involve a substantial increase in traffic, including heavy vehicles during construction.

If it was completed and running, as proposed, the development claims to be accommodating nearly 40 guests a night, which would more than double the entire population of residents currently residing on the Fire Tower Road.

Again, this is questioned by the residents who have looked into the submission because no detail at all has been provided about the vineyard and the cellar door. There is no plan and there is no infrastructure that has been detailed for that ostensibly important part of the application. The validity of that, as the purpose for the proposal, has been questioned.

It is located in a rural resource area and that makes it inappropriate to have a polo field and inappropriate to have accommodation. However, because they are hanging off the only part of the development application which has any legs in the planning scheme in that rural resource zone, which is the vineyard, these things are clustered around the vineyard as though they are part of the vineyard package.

What residents are making very clear is that there has been no capacity for them to comment about the things which really matter, including the water resource for the project. Koonya and the whole of the Tasman Peninsula is well understood to be a very dry place. The water source at the top of Mt Clark and Mt Koonya have a water lens which is a finite resource and it has plenty of users already calling on the finite capacity of that lens. There are particular issues looking to the future about water availability and whether and where such developments would source their water from. This is very important to residents who have to share that increasingly diminishing resource under climate heating.

This development is in train with the council, but it raises issues for residents in the area. The issues that we have spoken about in this place numbers of times, the flaws in the Tasmanian Planning Scheme that do not give the community a meaningful say about developments that are happening in their own areas, that do not allow for appeals to be taken in a way that is open to all people and at a cost that can be borne.

The cost of going to the Resource Management and Appeals Tribunal is very expensive, usually in the tens of thousands of dollars. So, it is important to have appeals which are available to everyone in the community so that decisions can be challenged if they are not based on correct and adequate information. Clearly, there appears to be some really huge questions for this development, and we will wait to hear what the council determines. We need to be able to understand the environmental impacts of projects like this.