New developments key to growing Wellington

Last week a number of Wellington residents took the opportunity to hear from Council about the way State Significant Projects such as Renewable Energy projects are decided.

This has been a touchy subject for some, relating to the Suntop project and I hope our meeting went some of the way to clearing up confusion about the role Council plays in decisions on these major projects.

As our director of Planning and Environment Stephen Wallace and his team explained, the approval process works mainly through the State Government, and Council’s ability to change the outcome is restricted to making a submission, much the same as residents.

Some have argued that Council could have included in their submission that it did not support the project. As our director pointed out, Council staff have to approach the project and assess it purely on merit, ignoring emotion that may surround it.

Their neutral position is essential and then allows Councillors to be the ones who can make the more political decisions.

Some will naturally ask why Councillors didn’t step in and push to oppose Suntop.

Council was able to have input into some of the conditions imposed upon the developer, such as road standards, maintenance and end of life requirements.

There is also the goal of getting developer contributions for community projects, such as can be seen by the annual $50,000 grants for community groups from Infigen for the Bodangora Wind farm. These are benefits that can come to the wider community from these developments.

It is also important that new development and new industry is allowed to come to Wellington. The town has struggled to bring new investment and often had a sceptical view of proposed developments.

It is part of the reason the former Wellington Council was unable to remain independent and also the reason why there is such a significant infrastructure backlog within the old shire borders.

We can no longer afford to turn away every development that comes to town. Projects that bring new investment, new jobs and ultimately new life to the town should be welcomed. You can rest assured Council will look carefully to ensure the developments won’t have any harm on the area.

It is important that if there are concerns about developments, residents make submissions that look to correct the issue rather than looking to completely block a project. It just isn’t acceptable.

Old attitudes that seek to block everything does the town of Wellington economic damage that can take years to repair.

Everyone has to work together and look for ways to grow Wellington and encourage new businesses that can help the town grow.

Last Edited: 06 Mar 2019

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