Sugar cane in the Tweed Valley. Picture: Liana Turner
Sugar cane in the Tweed Valley. Picture: Liana Turner

Farmers treated like second class citizens, says councillor

A COUNCILLOR'S attempt to alter the contentious Tweed Rural Land Strategy has been stalled after his original notices of motions were been swapped for another workshop.

The years long saga of the RLS, voted on in May of this year, was back on the Tweed Shire Council meeting agenda thanks to three notice of motions by Cr Warren Polglase.

<<READ MORE: Second dwellings on farms would have 'dire consequences'>>

The normal dramatics, absent from the last few council meetings, returned as councillors began taking swipes at each other during a fierce debate.

Cr Pryce Allsop accused Cr Milne of treating farmers like second class citizens while Cr Milne shot back at Cr Allsop and Cr Polglase claiming they were running a campaign of misinformation demonising her.

Ultimately an amendment passed instead of the motions to discuss all three issues by councillors engaging in a workshop.

The most controversial notice of motion related to amending the Tweed's Local Environment Plan (LEP) to permit, with consent, dual occupancy detached dwellings as a use on rural properties regardless of lot sizes.

Cr Polglase argued he put this forward on the advice of rural land holders to enable them to find a second revenue stream, or have family and staff live on the land.

Former mayor Cr Katie Milne cited the council staff's advice that allowing this would mean a 10 per cent rate rise for the rest of shire.

Cr Pryce Allsop questioned why a farmer could have a six bay tractor shed on his property but not a second dwelling.

Cr Polglase has also put forward a separate motion that would create a nine-member Rural Land Industry Advisory Committee consisting of five members engaged in rural activities and four with special qualifications and two councillors.

He said this aimed to address another criticism of the RLS process where rural stakeholders claimed they were not adequately consulted.

Cr Milne argued council staff had identified there was no budget for the committee and it would take enormous amount of time of staff who had already done their utmost to engage with stakeholders.

The matter was also referred to a workshop for councillors to discuss and decide what exactly the parameters of a rural stakeholders committee would be.

Cr Polglase also moved in a third motion to change four points in the RLS including seeking an independent panel to review the relevance of the 40h minimum lot size.

He clarified all of these, if passed, would still need to be placed on public exhibition.

Cr Milne warned to be careful what you wish for, an independent review of the 40h land policy could come back with increasing the minimum lot size.

The votes for workshops on the rural land strategy issues passed four to three with Cr Polglase, Reece Byrnes and Cr Allsop against.