Currently a ‘dwelling’ is an as-of-right use in some rural zones if the land is greater than the minimum subdivision size. This definition has led situations where Dwellings (deemed ‘sensitive land uses’) have encroached within buffer areas of extractive industry operations, potentially curtailing operations.
The products mined from extractive industries are essential to the development of our communities. Therefore, amendment VC219 enables an assessment of whether dwellings should be established proximate to extractive industries with relevant considerations being:
- The potential for accommodation to be adversely affected by an existing or proposed extractive industry operation, and
- The need to locate and design buildings used for accommodation to avoid or reduce the impact from existing or proposed extractive industry operation.
The Amendment has merit, especially if we also note the need for a planning permit does not mean one will not be issued.
However, there may be circumstances when a dwelling is not allowed near an extractive industry ‒ something you should be aware of when buying land in rural areas (or anywhere, for that matter).
An interesting aspect of the Amendment is that the ‘permit trigger’ is activated when an application or approval has been issued for extractive industry under another Act: the ‘Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990’. The extractive industry does not therefore need to exist or be operational. We are not certain how Councils, or the public, will be able to keep track of this.
Another option would have been to apply the recently introduced ‘Buffer Area Overlay’, which was supposed to provide a transparent means of protecting buffer generating uses from the encroachment of sensitive land uses. Presumably, the proposed course was deemed more expedient.
We understand why extractive industries were singled out for special protection given their direct and indirect importance to the State’s economy. However, we note other buffer-generating uses could similarly from similar protection in rural areas, including broiler farms and other intensive animal industries.