The current community concern about the State Government’s introduction of a new, deregulated, state-wide Planning Scheme can be seen within a broader framework of pressures for changes in the Tasmanian economy.
For the past century, the Tasmanian economy has relied on exploitation of its natural resources (mainly minerals and forestry products) and agricultural outputs. These industries were supported by ample, cheap hydro-electricity.
In more recent times this economic base has begun to change. A number of big industries have quit the state leading to a surplus of electricity, which now finds a ready market on the mainland as climate change bites and the air-conditioning demand soars.
The success of the environmental movement, starting with the Lake Pedder and Franklin River campaigns, has lead to World Heritage Reserves and the shift in forestry from native forests to plantations.
A new economy is now emerging. High technological agriculture and horticulture, viticulture and expanded irrigation are some of the changes. The most recent development is the growth in tourism, and service industries. International tourism has finally discovered what a gem Tasmania is. With increasing urbanisation and environmental degradation of the more populous areas of the world, Tasmania will attract increasing numbers of tourists. It is already happening.
Tasmania is now setting itself up to exploit this new found source of wealth and economic activity. The risks are huge, for unless wisely managed, the opening up of Tasmania for investment and development may destroy its greatest advantages – Tasmania’s unique natural and cultural heritages.
Tasmania’s economy relies on financial support from the economic powerhouses of Australia. Increased flows of wealth should be welcomed so Tasmania can become more financially independent. The Liberal government is pursuing almost every opportunity to increase investment into Tasmania.
It is no surprise the mantra for planning reform is “to make Tasmania attractive for investment, to create jobs”.
The Minister claims the new Planning Scheme will be “a fairer, faster, cheaper, simpler planning system”.
Time will tell. The planning system in Tasmania may need some reform. But many Tasmanians are increasingly wary of government deregulation which potentially destroys what they hold most dear. They fear the cost of deregulation will be less social cohesion, less protection of heritage, less certainty and less control of their lives.
Friends of the East Coast, and many others, believe there is a better way to reform the planning system.
In a nutshell, the Friends of the East Coast seeks a planning system for Tasmania where:
The proposed new statewide planning scheme currently being introduced by the State Government consists essentially of three components:
All these three components are intertwined. The improvements to the planning scheme proposed by the Friends of the East Coast require changes to all three.
But first a Planning Strategy needs to be developed which is supported by the community and not just a reflection of developers’ interests as at present.
At the very least, to achieve a balanced and sustainable Planning Strategy the following changes need to be made:
The following set of principles is proposed by the Friends of the East Coast:
1. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme must be the outcome of a community endorsed Tasmanian Planning and Development Strategy
state, regional, local strategies
all land uses
2. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme must maximise opportunities for the community to participate in all aspects of planning
notifications of applications, Permitted Uses/Discretionary Uses
role of local councils
transparent decision making
3. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme must protect and enhance Tasmania’s cultural and natural heritages
historic built environment
control of tourist developments
4. The amenity of communities and local residents must be the prime focus of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme
solar access, energy efficiency
5. The role of State Government must be limited to setting State Policies affecting planning and development and the approval and amendment of planning legislation
enhanced role of Tasmanian Planning Commission
roles of Parliament and Ministers
donations from developers