The Dorset Council built an “unauthorised and illegal” municipal depot on Crown Land and a mining lease at Briseis Hole, Derby, despite being told several times it did not have permission.
The council depot was built in 2019-2020 without development approval and in defiance of the directions of the Parks and Wildlife Service.
Right to Information documents reveal that the Parks and Wildlife Service general manager Jason Jacobi had a six-month running battle with the council on the issue.
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In December 2019, council general manager Tim Watson sent a building approval application direct to the then head of the Department of Primary Industry, Parks Water and Environment Dr John Whittington saying the “project is full steam ahead”. The Department told the council that it had conducted an “erroneous survey” of the site.
“At this stage, the council does not have any approval to be doing any works on Crown Land,” Crown Lands Officer Anne Maginnity wrote.
“Council do not hold any authority to be occupying the land as they have refused to sign up to lease that has been put to them,” officer Kathryn Clark wrote.
Mr Jacobi followed up with letters and email and calls on March 26, April 9 and May 5 about the issue.
“Council has proceeded with the construction of the depot without landowner consent to lodge a DA [development application] without landowner consent to commence works and without final and proper survey having been prepared that matches the mining lease boundary as determined by Mineral Resources Tasmania,” Mr Jacobi wrote. He directed that the council cease works and occupation of the site immediately.
In April, Mr Jacobi wrote again telling the council to immediately cease work and remove plant and equipment. On May 5, Mr Jacobi wrote saying that photos had been provided which showed erection of extensive fencing which further breached the mining lease boundary.
He wrote again three weeks later complaining about council’s continued disregard of the direction.
“I write to you again in disappointment and frustration at the disregard of the council to adhere to the expectations and directions of the state,” Mr Jacobi wrote.
“I am uncertain how clearer I need to be to ensure that this unauthorised access and use stops. This matter is serious as the depot has been constructed without building and planning approvals or any authorisation.”
He said that without approval the depot could not be considered a safe workplace. The Solicitor General wrote to the council in July.
The Examiner approached Dorset general manager Tim Watson and the Department of Justice for comment.