Developers submitting ODZ applications ‘under false pretenses’, Environment Commissioner warns

Commissioner David Paces alleges that developers are lying on their applications submitted to build on ODZ land

Last year, activists held a picnic on a roundabout to highlight land use crisis
Last year, activists held a picnic on a roundabout to highlight land use crisis

Developers may be submitting ODZ applications “under false pretenses”, Commissioner for the Environment and Planning David Pace has warned.

Pace is accusing applicants of trying to obtain building permits, under the pretense of agricultural stores for agricultural use, whereas the ultimate use will be residential. The Commissioner said this was a poorly masked effect to obtain approval, especially when amendments are complete with interconnecting spiral staircases to different levels.

Pace has insisted that development should ultimately benefit the whole community, not just the developer.

Because of its consulting status, the Environment and Resources Authority is unable to block these permits from being approved by the board, leaving the Planning Authority with the power to veto their acceptance.

Following the MEPA demerger, which separated the environment and planning arms, critics have argued that the environment arm was weakened.

Pace himself has alleged has been given a “mere consulting role” within the board, in a poorly masked effort to disable its ability to reject applicants.

“The responsibility clearly rests on the Commissions and Boards to go beyond the ‘checklist’ approach,” continues Pace. “Applications are clearly being submitted under a pretext”.

Pace rejected accusations that he had been lax on regulating environmental planning, listing a series of letters and suggestion that have been sent to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition as proof. 

These suggestions show him addressing public concern on ODZ sprawl, particularly when he “felt that proposed legislative or administrative changes did not give the proper assurances that such changes would lead to an improvement in environmental protection.” 

In 2013, Pace also suggested the drafting of a marine subject plan, which was adopted by the for Environment and Development (SPED).

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