$27,000 bill to put up a shed

THE construction of a packing shed may cost farmers an additional $30,000 under the State Government's Strategic Cropping Land (SCL) legislation.

Under the SCL draft policy, the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has been named as a concurrence agency for development in SCL management area.

The Somerset Regional Council said that would mean DERM would charge an assessment fee - of $27,254 - for ancillary developments that add value to a property.

That includes packing sheds larger than 750 sq m and farm accommodation for workers or tourists.

The legislation in the draft proposal only covers specific areas identified as strategic and would not impact on the development of any required infrastructure.

In an attempt to alter the legislation before it is finalised, the Somerset council has put forward a submission to DERM.

It has requested the policy be amended so ancillary developments are excluded from the fee.

Somerset mayor Graeme Lehmann said the fee could severely impact the viability of farms in the region.

"It's something that if it went through in its current state could bring the agricultural industry to its knees," he said.

"If farmers want to construct a packing shed or the like, it could cost them an absolute fortune."

A DERM spokesman said developments for food production were exempt from the fee.

"DERM will act as a concurrence agency for any development requiring assessment under the Sustainable Planning Act," he said.

"A development assessment is only required when there is a proposal to develop strategic cropping land."

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