Approval systems a 'shortfall' for councils

LOCAL governments need legislative power when it comes to approving big-ticket projects.

Discussion during the LGAQ's regional resources forum became quite heated after KPMG advisor James Mathews opened the floor to discuss the current approval systems.

As the State Government approves projects on a case-by-case basis, Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the cumulative impacts that several approved projects may create was not being monitored.

"At the moment it's State Government's responsibility, they are the approval authority," she said.

"We are certainly working towards genuine policy change so there is another body of work around cumulative impacts.

"There needs to be an eye on that."

With 26 operating coal mines in the Isaac region, Cr Baker said residents in her community had felt the brunt of impacts numerous projects could make when approved separately.

Other councils reported being overwhelmed during boom times when several complex Environmental Impact Statements needed to be reviewed.

KPMG's James Mathews highlighted to delegates research conducted by reviewing several Queensland approvals that had been finalised.

One of the key findings in the research was a shortfall in local governments being alerted to up-coming developments.

He said it was sometimes the case that councils would not be aware of a project until and EIS arrived on their desk for review. 

Push for creativity

CREATIVITY is a renewable resource and it is about time local governments made better use of it.

That was the message cultural planning expert Charles Landry had for councillors at the LGAQ annual conference.

Mr Landry showed examples of European cities that had allowed small homes to be built on the top of skyscrapers.

But he said local governments need not be as radical.

"I am not saying they have to be mad or bizarre, but they need to give young people the chance to feel like they are makers, shakers and co-creators," he said.

Mr Landry said society had shifted to being more nomadic, so it was essential communities were places that gave residents a sense of identity.

Towns and cities with standard practical infrastructure would lose young people to bigger hubs.

"When you look at the heart of your town, does it look like an interesting place where people would like to meet, or is just a place that has a very wide road?" he asked.


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