Farmers, Indigenous groups and KAP slam 700 per cent hike in property development charges

A Lakeland farmer and earthmoving contractor has expressed outrage over application fees she has to pay to the Cook Shire Council and the State Assessment Referral Agency to construct a rural dam.

Development application fees have increased by 700 per cent since September and excessive State Government red tape continues to hamstring assessable projects on private property.

Annette Marriott said in some cases the application fees could cost more than the project, if the amount of earth to be shifted is in excess of 10 cubic metres, it then becomes ‘code assessable’.

“The fees have gone from zero to $2,823 for an application to construct a dam if it is in a paddock that shares a boundary with a main road,” Mrs Marriott said.

“Vegetation clearing fees which could involve as little as removing one tree have gone from $1370.35 to $11,291, and Waterway Barrier Works have increased from $2084.40 to $11,291”.

“The total cost in fees to build a dam has increased from $3454.75 to $25,405, and I don’t know who can wear this cost particularly if the application is refused for whatever reason”.

“I took this issue to the Minister for Primary Industries Tim McVeigh at the Mareeba Community Cabinet Meeting in December and he told me the charges ‘stand’”.

“The application to Cook Shire Council costs $800 then it triggers referral to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry”.

The new charges also apply to subdivisions or other construction proposals.

She said if any other department wanted a “chop” at it then there would be more fees, many more weeks of paperwork and if a detailed engineer’s report is required the quotes ranged from $60,000 or more.

“The DAFF require us to construct massive fish ways if the dam wall is over 18 metres high and would require 360 metres of rock lined channel with a 1 in 20 slope and incorporate a 3 metre diameter pool that has a minimum depth of 300 mm at 20 metre intervals along the channel,” Mrs Marriott said.

“Spillways for potential dams within the upstream limits would require a width of between 40 to 60 m.

“Alternative fish ways are a rock lined channel with a 1 in 40 slope, a fish lock or a vertical lock fish way.

“The huge cost associated with this construction would far outweigh the benefits of the extra water from a new dam.”

“Property developers can pass on these costs to the mums and dads who buy land but farmers only get what they are given,” Mrs Marriott said

Meanwhile Katters Australian party candidate for Cook, Lee Marriott has labelled the fee hike as “extortion that the LNP don’t want people to know about before the election.

“The LNP is supposed to be the party for small business and farmers but with friends like this they don’t need enemies.

“As a part of the Independents Accord in State Parliament, if elected I would move to reduce these ridiculous fees back to where they were and keep bureaucracy out of people’s lives”.

The new charges have angered the Indigenous community and the spokesman for a Mareeba-based group said such high application fees would curtail their development aspirations.

Chairman of Western Yalanji, Alwyn Lyall, said the government was urging land trust boards to develop some of their large property holdings for cattle, farming and tourism.

“We are having trouble now getting funds to create some economic benefits from our properties but these new costs will stop us before we start”, Mr Lyall said.

“No individual could afford it.

“The government is encouraging us to get into business but all the permits and licences

we need will be too expensive.”

For more information contact Lee Marriott at Mareeba on 0457434803

Referral Cost Previously Current Cost
State Control Road Nil $ 2,823.00
Vegetation Clearing $ 1,370.35 $ 11,291.00
Waterway Barrier Works $ 2,084.40 $ 11,291.00
Total $ 3,454.75 $ 25,405.00