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Mayor disappointed in Labor’s Rural Lands Strategy announcement

Friday 1 February 2019

Mayor Liz Innes says Labor’s announcement yesterday it will not endorse Eurobodalla’s Rural Lands Strategy is political pointscoring at the expense of rural land owners.

“I’m so disappointed that Leanne Atkinson has decided to play politics with the Rural Lands Strategy,” Clr Innes said.

“We’ve worked for eight long years with our farmers and the wider community to get them some certainty about their land. Together, we created a strategy that will support rural production while maintaining all the existing environmental protections.

“And here’s Leanne jumping on the bandwagon at the last minute, using misinformation to attack our rural land owners and whip up fear in the community.

“She lacks credibility when she states Council is ignoring and dismissing state agencies. These agencies, including Office of Environment and Heritage and Department of Primary Industries, were around the steering committee table when we developed the strategy.

“We considered their concerns at that stage and we reviewed them again as part of the consultation last year. We have our professional view around these issues and they have theirs. The agencies haven’t rejected the strategy outright, they’ve objected to particular properties within our rural area. In these situations our professional staff have a different view to the agencies. These areas of disagreement are addressed in the planning proposal currently with the Minister. Reports responding to all the submissions, including the Rural Fire Service, have been available on our website since last July. It doesn’t get much more transparent.

“If Leanne was sincere she’d have taken the time to contact me to talk about it.

“Unlike Leanne, I believe in our farmers and our rural community and know they are genuine and caring custodians of our rural lands.

“I’ll repeat the key facts. Right across Eurobodalla, 38,000 hectares, the Rural Lands Strategy allows for a modest 122 new lots and 255 new dwellings. Any developments that require development consent from Council would be assessed against NSW government biodiversity, land clearing and bushfire management legislation, just as they are now.

“The Rural Lands Strategy is about growing our rural economy and doing it in a sensitive way to ensure environmental values are protected. It’s about diversification and opportunity and jobs for local people.

“Council’s job was to bring together a strategy that integrates social, economic and environmental benefits, and that’s what we’ve done.