Today, the lower house of the Tasmanian Parliament will debate the Canal Estates (Prohibition) Bill which was tabled by Planning Minister Bryan Green on March 16 this year.

On June 21st 2010, the Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC) delivered its final Integrated Assessment Report rejecting the Walker Corporation’s proposed canal housing estate in Ralphs Bay. The next day, then Premier David Bartlett announced his Government’s intention to bring in a Tasmanian canal estate ban.

“Save Ralphs Bay Inc. has campaigned long and hard for this canal estate ban”, said SRB Communication Coordinator Jane MacDonald. “SRB was formed in 2004 and a canal estate ban was one of the group’s goals right from the start.”

The Canal Estates (Prohibition) Bill 2011 amends the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (LUPAA) to prohibit canal estate developments in Tasmania. The Bill requires the Tasmanian Planning Commission to amend Tasmanian planning schemes accordingly, and it stipulates that a canal estate project is not eligible to be declared a Project of Regional Significance.

The Bill also amends the State Policies and Projects Act 1993 to ensure that a canal estate development proposal can never again be given Project of State Significance status in Tasmania.

“A legislated canal estate ban will send a clear signal to developers that this type of development has no place in Tasmania”, said Jane MacDonald.

“New South Wales banned canal estates in 1997. The southern Tasmanian municipality of Kingborough banned them in 2000. The Victorian Coastal Strategy banned them in 2008. The Southern Tasmanian Regional Land Use Strategy, due out next month, will ban canal estates in the south of the state. It is high time a consistent statewide ban on this type of development was enacted, to provide clarity to Councils and certainty to communities and developers. This is particularly significant given the predicted impacts of climate change on future sea levels and on the severity and frequency of extreme weather events. It is time to recognize the folly of building housing subdivisions in ecologically significant coastal wetlands.”

• Dr Eric Woehler

SUPPORT FOR TASMANIAN CANAL ESTATE BAN

“Birds Tasmania supports the introduction of a ban on canal estates in Tasmania” said Dr Eric Woehler, Chair of Birds Tasmania today. The Tasmanian Parliament will today debate the Canal Estates (Prohibition) Bill 2011 that was tabled by Planning Minister Bryan Green earlier this year.

“This legislation recognises that canal estates, as proposed by the Walker Corporation for the Lauderdale foreshore and since overwhelmingly rejected, can destroy critical habitat for coastal birds” Dr Woehler noted.

The Resource Planning and Development Commission (now the Tasmanian Planning Commission) – the “independent umpire” – comprehensively rejected the proposed Lauderdale canal estate on a number of points, including environmental impacts. Two mainland states have banned canal estates, and the Southern Tasmanian Regional Land Use Strategy, to be released next month, will ban canal estates in Tasmania’s southern municipalities.

“Other states have banned canal estates, so Tasmania should fall in line” Dr Woehler argued. “With all we know about projected sea-level rise and predicted changes in extreme weather events, building canal estates just doesn’t make any sense”.

“This legislation is about the long-term, strategic protection for Tasmania’s coasts and coastal birds. The State and Federal Governments have national and international obligations to protect coastal birds and their habitats, and so this legislation is a significant contribution to those efforts,” he added.

Shorebirds (waders) around the world are under increasing pressure, with many species’ populations decreasing rapidly. The loss of habitat is the single greatest threat faced by shorebirds on the planet.