Plans for a controversial 136,000-plot cemetery in Macarthur’s Scenic Hills can now be viewed from the comfort of your loungeroom.
Development applications can only usually be viewed at the council’s administration building and libraries, meaning people interested in the development have to comb through pages of hard copy.
One of the most vocal opponents of the cemetery and owner of Varro Ville House, Jacqui Kirkby, said she contacted the Environmental Defenders Office about the absence of a digital version.
She said the EDO then advised the council they were in breach of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 by not putting the application online.
However, council’s director of city development, Jim Baldwin, said that wasn’t the case.
He said the council had to gain approval from copyright holders whose material was featured in the development application before the plans could be made available online.
“The documents have been made available online due to the size and quantum of supporting documents received with the DA, in an effort to provide the community with an easier and more convenient method to properly review such a voluminous set of documents,” he said.
“The decision to publish the subject documents on council’s website was made a month prior to council being contacted by the Environmental Defenders Office.
“Council’s decision to publish the documents on its website was not influenced by the EDO.
“Council made the decision prior to the public exhibition commencement in early November to make every effort to publish the DA’s associated documents online, whilst at the same time not placing the council at risk of infringing copyright law.”
The public exhibition period has also been extended by more than a month until March 23, 2018.
Last year the Advertiser asked Mr Baldwin why all DAs were not available to be viewed online.
Mr Baldwin said the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 indemnified the council for using copyright material though it didn’t make it “exempt from, liability for infringing copyright”.
“Placing the development application ... in full on the internet allows for uncontrolled printing, copying or downloading of the copyright protected material,” he said.
“This can further expose the council to claims of breach of copyright.
“Although council could provide a statement explaining clearly that the digital image or document is subject to copyright law and that council in no way permits the copying of any document, council has been advised that this approach does not protect the council from legal action due to a third party copyright breach.”
To view the documents go to campbelltown.nsw.gov.au/BuildAndDevelop/DevOnline and follow the prompts.