Thursday 19 April 2007



[4.07 p.m.]

Mr FINCH (Question) - Mr President, my question is to the honourable Leader. With regard to the PAL policy, is the Government aware that most of the West Tamar municipality is class 4, 5 and 6 of land capability, which is generally only suitable for small pockets of horticulture and grazing which we better maintain if small titles are encouraged?

Mr PARKINSON - I thank the honourable member for his question. The Government is aware of the land capability of the West Tamar municipal area as it has been mapped by the Department of Primary Industries and Water and is available on the LIST website. According to that mapping, most of the agricultural land is class 4, 5 or 6. There are only two small areas of class 3 lands at Rosevears and Grindelwald. The Protection of Agricultural Land, the State PAL policy, recognises that all agricultural land in Tasmania is a valuable resource. Many valuable cropping and grazing operations occur on non-prime land.

The Tamar Valley is one of Tasmania's premium wine areas with all the vineyards there on class 4 or 5 land. Under the PAL State policy the controls over lot size and the use and development of non-prime land are determined by the local councils, taking into account the fact that small lot sizes and residential development might conflict with legitimate and important agricultural users nearby. I note that the West Tamar Council has drafted a totally new planning scheme and not simply sought to amend the current scheme to give effect to the Government's PAL policy.

That draft scheme is still going through the appropriate process. On this basis the controls on use and development in a rural zone may not be simply to protect agricultural land, it might reflect a range of other planning considerations the council thinks are important. For example, the planning scheme states that the existing planning scheme allowed extensive residential development in various parts of the municipal area. However, servicing and environmental constraints reduced the viability of further development in many of these areas. It also sets as a strategy the confinement of urban development to identified settlements and the prevention of further ribbon development.

If the council seeks to limit subdivision of rural land and residential development outside of settlements, this is a matter for it. However, I note that the draft planning scheme allows development of houses where they are integral to agriculture or on lots that cannot be used for agriculture and will not conflict with agriculture nearby. I can also advise that subdivision in the rural zone is allowed down to any size where it can be demonstrated that it is appropriate for the establishment of a sustainable rural enterprise.