Greens' Bill to give community a say over future developments in National Parks

A Greens’ Bill to ensure the public has a say over controversial private developments in National Parks, has been introduced into State Parliament.

“The Government has a clear agenda to allow more private developers into our National Parks. Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of these proposals, it is unacceptable that development decisions can be made with zero public consultation,” said Greens MLC and environmental lawyer, Mark Parnell.

“Under current planning laws, when the State Planning Commission is considering whether to approve developments in National Parks, they hold one or more farcical planning “hearings” where only the developer is allowed to speak. The public can attend and watch, but they can’t say a word and can’t even lodge a written submission.

“To make matters worse, the Planning Commission only has regard to the planning rules written by the Planning Department, not the approved Management Plan for the National Park written by the Environment Department (with input from environmental experts, conservation groups and the general public).

“This is precisely what happened when approval was given for 20 private buildings on the pristine wilderness coastline of Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island earlier this month. What an appalling way to manage our shared natural heritage in our most special places! National Parks and other reserves under the National Parks and Wildlife Act are at the heart of our conservation system and they should be managed for all South Australians and for future generations, not the interests of private developers.”

Under the Greens’ Bill:

1. All private developments in National Parks would be subject to public notification, representation and appeal rights.
2. All approved Management Plans for National Parks would be automatically included in the new Planning and Design Code for South Australia. This will ensure that environmental objectives are paramount in deciding what is or isn’t appropriate by way of new development in our National Parks.

The Bill will be put to a vote in the Legislative Council after Parliament resumes in September.