A RECOMMENDATION from Shoalhaven City Council staff to reject a proposal that would have turned part of the Tomerong Quarry into a major tip will hopefully be the end of the issue.
The community fought long and hard to ensure the application did not go ahead – citing major environmental concerns, and pointing out the difficulties the tip’s operation would cause for people throughout the region.
It put forward a compelling case, yet the issue remains up in the air because the final decision is not in the hands of locals.
Instead it is being made by a group of people appointed by the state government who are not accountable to the local community, and have not invested their lives, their futures, their families in the Shoalhaven.
There is little doubt that had the decision rested with Shoalhaven City Council, the due diligence of council officers would have been followed up by the elected councillors rejecting the tip plan.
However the overwhelming sentiment of local residents, the tidal wave of opposition evident in more than 700 objections being lodged with council, the public meetings that packed out halls, provided messages that are less likely to be heard to their full extent by people who are, in effect, external consultants.
Herein lies a problem inherent in taking decisions out of the hands of a local community and its representatives.
When it comes to issues about health,
governments are in the process of returning
decisions to communities by breaking down large bureaucracies and re-establishing hospital boards to allocate resources.
This should be followed by returning planning power to the people most affected by decisions.