Lynn MacLaren MLC says the Greens have become the sole voice in the Upper House in the fight to retain democracy in local planning decisions.
Ms MacLaren has put forward amendments which will give elected MPs the power to reject development schemes within improvement plan areas.
In its current wording, the planning bill allows the WAPC to make all these decisions.
“What worries me is that these so-called ‘improvement plans’ can usurp existing planning schemes. They can also be established in places like the Kimberley, where no schemes exist. In the worst case scenario, these plans could be used to bring back unpopular projects such as the Fremantle Eastern Bypass, which local residents spent years fighting,” said Lynn MacLaren, MLC for the South Metro Region.
“Large industrial estates, dirty industry and multi-lane highways could also be on the menu anywhere in WA, if the WAPC decides it fits into their grand plans. Residents simply won’t have a say.
“If the WAPC decides that a project is strategically important, there will be nothing that elected MPs can do to stop a scheme. This is big brother politics at its worst.
“The Greens also oppose the Development Assessment Panels, which take away the power of locally elected councils to determine development applications above $3 million, including projects such as large factories and high rise developments.
"Both the ALP and Liberal parties are supporting this planning reform, which is unpopular among local councils,” added Ms MacLaren.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Lynn MacLaren MLC will debate the Approvals and Related Reforms (Planning) Bill 2009 on 15 June. The Greens amendments will give Parliament the power to throw out an improvement scheme within a WAPC-designated improvement plan area if there is a public backlash.
What is an improvement plan?
An improvement plan identifies an area or site that will be subject to special planning
provisions in order to advance the development of that land. The Western Australian
Planning Commission (WAPC) may acquire land within the improvement plan area
and undertake works on that land to fulfill the objectives of the improvement plan.
At the moment, improvement plans may only be declared in areas where a region
planning scheme applies. The proposed changes will enable the WAPC to declare
improvement plans in any area of the state, whether or not a region planning scheme
applies or is pending.
Currently, there are three region schemes in operation in Western Australia: the
Metropolitan Region Scheme, the Peel Region Scheme and the Greater Bunbury