Shire 'incapable' of
The proponents of the Smiths Beach development say they have lost confidence in the Busselton Shire's ability to assess its application and referred the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal.
Canal Rocks' proposed development at Smiths Beach near Yallingup includes two hotels and hundreds of holiday units and residential homes.
It initially submitted its development application in 2005 but the shire is still sifting through close to 8,000 public submissions.
The already extended deadline for the shire to assess the application expired two weeks ago and its request for an extension has been refused.
Canal Rocks Chairman David McKenzie says he has lost faith in the independence of the shire's review process and has accused it of being incapable of completing its report.
Mr McKenzie says the Administrative Tribunal will offer a truly independent assessment of the proposal.
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The Smiths Beach Action Group (Inc.) are appalled that the developers have used a flimsy excuse to avoid the harsh reality of an adverse report from the independent auditors.
However the SBAG is not surprised at this tactic, as it expected this would happen when the developers originally insisted that an independent auditor be appointed to write the report on the public submissions. The SBAG at the time expressed opposition to the developer's request and confidence in the ability of the Shire staff to provide an unbiased and independent report in a timely fashion.
We saw the outside auditor process as a time wasting exercise and because the developers are paying for the report, they would have the right to intimate knowledge of its contents prior to it being released to the public. We suspect that having seen the report, they don't like what they see and are using the "taking too long" excuse to go to the appeals tribunal.
The fact remains that over 8000 written submissions were lodged with the Shire and we believe that more than 6000 are opposed to the development. This shows that despite a huge media campaign, secretive attempts to influence the planning process and the use of influential lobbyists, opposition has more than doubled since the last plan was withdrawn.
The SBAG is hopeful the State Administrative Tribunal will be able to view the contents of the auditors report and the submissions before they make a decision.