An amendment preventing the creation of extra red tape for tree farm approvals within the City of Albany has been backed by councillors on the way to endorsing Local Planning Scheme 2. Tuesday’s decision by the council to indicate its support for LPS2 to the WA Planning Commission was unanimous, but not before some debate about an amendment tabled by Cr Thomas Brough. The amendment results in tree farm approvals in priority agriculture zones remaining a discretionary (D) classification, as was originally advertised in the draft LPS2 put out for public comment last year. Feedback from the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development during LPS2’s public comment period had recommended a change for tree farm approvals from D to A classification. The change to classification would have added a requirement for tree farm applications in priority agriculture zones to be advertised prior to approval. DPIRD’s reasoning behind its suggested changes, which had been adopted by City officers in an updated draft of LPS2, was that priority agriculture zones are primarily for “food production purposes”. Speaking in support of his amendment Cr Brough said his reasoning for the amendment was backed by farmers, foresters, the community and relevant planning regulations. He said it was an argument between a commonsense approach and a red-tape approach. “City officers have not supported the amendment for the commonsense approach because of an overriding concern that DPIRD must be given an opportunity to comment on food production,” he said. “We are told we have to adopt the red-tape approach in order to afford DPIRD this opportunity, and yet we’ve learnt under the commonsense approach DPIRD can still be consulted to comment on food production. “The crux of the opposition to this amendment falls apart with that.” Councillors Chris Thomson, Robert Sutton, John Shanhun, Greg Stocks and Delma Baesjou spoke in favour of the amendment. Councillors Amanada Cruse and Sandie Smith both spoke against the amendment and were ultimately the only two councillors to vote against it. Cr Cruse said she had three reasons to vote against the motion — the strong advice provided by DPIRD, the change to A classification would only add an extra month to the approval process, and keeping things fair. “Food security is an important, complex and emerging issue and we’re talking about land that has been identified as priority agricultural for the purposes of food security,” she said. “It’s DPIRD’s job to be the experts and they are the ones best place to understand what and where our priorities should be in terms of food security moving forward.” Cr Sutton said the suggestion that concerns about food security was a “joke” as “we export most of the food that is produced here”. “FOGO has proved how much wasted food we have in the reduction to landfill,” he said. During public question time Peter Drygan spoke of his experience tree farming both in the general agricultural zone and the priority agricultural zones., and expressed his disappointment that DPIRD’s suggested changes had been adopted by City planners. “I felt let down by DPIRD whose charter on their webpage is to develop and protect Western Australian agriculture and the food sector to build vibrant regions with strong economies,” he said. The successful amendment followed on from Cr Brough also putting forward an amendment at the committee level earlier this month to have tree farms classed as permitted (P) in rural zones rather than D. That amendment had already been included in the committee recommendation laid out in the agenda as it had passed 8-4. A second “straight forward amendment” to LPS2 was tabled by Cr Stephen Grimmer and passed unanimously with support from City officers who indicated it did not change the intent of the scheme. Requests from Friends of Yakamia Forest Boodja group members during public question time for councillors to immediately change a bush land block’s zoning to conservation reserve were not considered during the item.