Tasmanian Government proposes changes to planning powers for major projects

Tasmania's State Planning Minister will be granted “call-in’’ powers over major construction projects under proposed new planning powers announced recently.

The new laws would give the Minister the power to take over major planning decisions from local councils and refer them to the Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC). They would also allow developers to bypass local councils and apply directly to the Planning Minister or the Commission for consideration as a major project.

Planning and Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein said the proposed reforms would cut red tape and provide certainty of process.

“Any project that is complex might be outside of the capacity of a Local Government planning authority to deal with in terms of capacity or resources,” he said.

“Those types of projects can apply to become major projects.”

Mr Gutwein described the proposal as providing a pathway for any major project that was complex and had scale.

“But it is a pathway into assessment, not a pathway into approval.”

The TPC, which is independent from government, would assess the major project applications and decide if they get the go ahead.

There would be no avenue for appeal, and the TPC would decide if the projects were subject to community consultation.

Greens spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said similar planning laws introduced in other states have been widely criticised.

"It's a pathway to corruption, it is clearly the sort of legislation that will allow developers to get what they want, behind closed doors, the community doesn't have any say at all," he said.

Launceston Mayor Albert Van Zetten said he is supportive of the government playing a role in assessing more complex planning applications.

"I think most communities and people living in those communities, would like to have a say and they would still like to have their say and I would have thought that is important."

The draft laws are open for public comment until 2 October.

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