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Vegetation Management laws will drive up the cost of housing

The property industry, Queensland’s second largest employer, has today joined with the agricultural industry to express its disappointment in the Queensland Government’s decision to amend the State’s vegetation management laws.

While there has been much conversation about the impact of the proposed amendments on the agricultural sector, there has been no consultation with the property industry on the unintended consequences of the amendments on urban development, according to Chris Mountford, Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.

“Although the legislation is aimed at the agricultural sector and impacts of clearing on the Great Barrier Reef, the reality is that it will directly affect the cost of housing in urban areas, like South East Queensland,” Mr Mountford says.

“These proposed laws actually go well beyond reversing the changes made to the Vegetation Management Act by the previous government. 

“They introduce significant new environmental offset requirements that will add thousands of dollars to the cost of new housing across Queensland. 

“This is because the model used to calculate the cost of environmental offsets is directly related to the value of the land.  As the value of land in urban areas is significantly higher than in non-urban areas, increasing offset requirements will have a higher cost impost for development land than it will for agricultural land.
“As a result, these proposed laws directly contradict the State’s own key planning documents that are intended to direct where future housing will be constructed. 

“For example, the South East Queensland Regional Plan identifies land suitable for future urban growth by delineating an ‘urban footprint’. It is within this footprint that the State has said that the future housing needed to accommodate population growth should be built. 

“These new laws will effectively render the Regional Plan worthless, as swaths of land within the urban footprint will effectively be sterilized by a requirement to pay exorbitant offset costs.

“The only possible solution to make the legislation work, would be to include an exemption for urban areas that have been designated in a Regional Plan. In these circumstances the State has already made a decision about the preferred future use of the land based on an assessment that balances environmental, social and economic outcomes across a region.  

“In fact, there is little point in the State Government continuing its current review of the South East Queensland Regional Plan unless such an exemption is provided in the legislation currently before the Parliament.  
“As the Government’s own State Infrastructure Plan acknowledges, Queensland’s population is set to reach 7 million people in the next 20 years. 

“In order to cater for this growth, the Government cannot afford to erode the viability of the land currently within the urban footprint. Such actions will only lead to a housing shortage and affordability crisis.”