Wetlands, Permits, Civil, Biodiversity, Land Use, Precaution, Inspections, Property, Air pollution, Evidence
This matter concerns an application to review the failure by Glenelg Shire Council (‘the Council’) to grant a permit within the prescribed time for the construction of a dwelling. The Tribunal has received a number of statements of grounds from residents and others expressing concern about the visual impact of the dwelling; the impact upon native vegetation; the impact of the accessway upon the Surry River floodway; the threat to bird and small mammal species and Aboriginal middens; and the appropriateness of the dwelling having regard to climate change, the Victorian Coastal Strategy (VCS) and Glenelg’s Strategic Futures Plan (SFP). As part of its decision VCAT considered Clause 13.01-1 of the State Planning Policy, which requires authorities to manage and plan for the possible coastal impacts of climate change [at 70] including the possibility of a 'sea level rise of not less than 0.8 metres by 2100'. This requirement was interpreted by VCAT to mean that authorities may consider sea level rises that are greater than 0.8 metres. Whether such a consideration ‘is appropriate will depend upon the circumstances of the particular site, the nature of the proposal and the scientific information available at the time. Clause 13.01-1 also calls for an application of ‘the precautionary principle to planning and management decision-making when considering the risks associated with climate change.’ In this case, despite accepting that the risk of coastal impacts at the site was low, the Tribunal held that the primary dune system and the estuary remained vulnerable to the affects of climate change. The Tribunal further stated that the Victorian Coastal Strategy cautioned against development that would compromise future ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change and respond to emerging climate science The Tribunal also took into account the following points in rejecting the issue of a permit: the location of the proposed site was undesirable, being on the slope of a primary sand dune; the dwelling did not maintain or enhance the coastal landscape character of the area; the site’s capacity for on-site containment of domestic wastewater was not satisfactorily demonstrated; the site access required would significantly disturb a wetland; the dwelling wouldn’t blend into the surrounding landscape and would occupy an effective buffer space that protected the town.