Thursday 04/10/2012 Frances Bell, ABC News
Victoria's Planning Minister Matthew Guy has been accused of undermining the planning appeals process by approving coastal housing near Portland.
Mr Guy stripped the Glenelg Shire of planning control for the area between Narrawong and Dutton Way on the state's south-west coast last year.
At the time he said landowners should be allowed to build houses, but they would have to be relocatable because of the threat of rising sea levels, storm surges and erosion.
The Environment Defenders Office planned to challenge the development proposals at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) next week.
But lawyer Nick Croggon says Mr Guy has used his powers to approve a number of housing permits, which means the appeal cannot proceed.[It] really undermines the entire basis of the VCAT process, which is to have an independent review of decisions such as this, to make sure that they're consistent with our planning laws that are there to protect the coast, he said.
We're currently considering our position as to what we can do with the case but it's fair to say that if developments no longer need a planning permit, the basis of the appeal has been significantly undermined.
Mr Guy says the Government is fulfilling an election promise to landholders who were prevented from developing their properties under a moratorium imposed by the former Labor government.
The Government is doing what it said it would do, and that is going through the process where incorporated documents would allow people to build on land that they own, to put a house on blocks that they own, the Government said we would do, he said.
We won't be distracted by the Environmental Defenders Office, people in Melbourne, lawyers in Melbourne, coming in to tell country people they can't build on land that they own.