Questions whether proposed Collector firing range is lawful

PUBLIC INTEREST: John Reardon, Greg Akhurst and Neera Stephenson, is joined by other residents who do not want the firing range near Collector. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong.
PUBLIC INTEREST: John Reardon, Greg Akhurst and Neera Stephenson, is joined by other residents who do not want the firing range near Collector. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong.

The question of whether the proposed Collector Firing Range is a lawful use of land has been raised. 

Collector resident James Mckay said if the development was deemed an unlawful use of the land then the proposed development should “fall at the first hurdle.” 

The proposed shooting range, known as Samuel’s Run, at 2155 Collector Road, 4km from the village, attracted 50 submissions (with 49 opposed) when exhibited by Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council recently. 

In his submission to QPRC on April 9, Mr McKay said the applicant is seeking to ground its application under clause 107B of the State Environment Planning Policy, 2007. 

“This clause permits any person to undertake development with consent on a ‘lawful’ shooting range,” Mr Mckay wrote.

“Clause 107C permits the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) to undertake development without consent on a lawful shooting range. Both provisions require for there to be a lawful shooting range.

He said because of this broad power conferred on police under 107C, he wrote to the police to seek their understanding of whether the proposed shooting range at Samuel’s Run met the definition of ‘lawful shooting range.” 

Mr McKay received an email from the NSWPF on April 4, 2018 stating: "As far as the NSWPF is aware, the Samuel's Run site does not currently satisfy our understanding of a lawful shooting range." 

Mr McKay said it was significant that the police now stated this, also considering they had used the site late last year. 

“It is heartening to hear that the NSW Police Force agreeing with numerous other legal opinions in reaching the conclusion that the site of the proposed development is not a lawful shooting range,” Mr Mckay said. 

“This is important, because the application seeks to rely on the site being defined as a ‘lawful shooting range’ in order to be permissible. 

“I am not particularly interested in whether the shooting range is a good idea or not – there is a threshold question to be answered and the application comprehensively fails that test. Therefore it falls at the first hurdle.

“The reason I wrote to the NSW Police Force seeking their assurances with regards to the meaning of a lawful shooting range was because of their power to carry out development on a lawful shooting range without consent,” Mr Mckay said.  

“If the NSW Police Force come to that conclusion, I can only assume the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council will also come to the same conclusion.

“Ultimately, the development has nothing to do with the question of whether it is a meritorious idea or not.

“It turns solely on whether it is permissible under the law. And it clearly is not, end of story.” 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) said because Samuel's Run did not currently satisfy their understanding of a lawful shooting range –  did not mean that it is necessarily an "unlawful shooting range.”  

“Just as your house, or the local oval would not be a lawful shooting range - it does not necessarily flow that they would be "unlawful" shooting ranges,” a spokesperson from NSWPF said.

The spokesperson confirmed the NSW Police had used the range last year but that they had done so in a “lawful” fashion. 

“The site was used for the purposes of essential emergency services training,” the spokesperson said.

She said the NSWPF obtained the necessary approvals to use the site.  The approvals were specific to the NSWPF and specific to the timeframe of the training. 

“When NSWPF used the site in August and September last year, we made the site become a lawful shooting range by using powers that are specific to the State Government - we exercised our rights under clause of ISEPP and then we obtained an approval from the NSW Firearms Registry,” she said.

“Those two things demonstrate that our use was lawful.”

The NSWPF spokesperson said they had no current interest in the facility, but would consider using it if it was a approved site in the future. 

“We have no current interest in the facility and we are not the proponent - it is not relevant to us what is happening there at the moment,” she said. 

“They are an independent third party.  

“If the facility was up and running and approved then yes – we would we be likely to use it – as it is perfect for our training needs – but it is not our facility. 

“We use defence sites when they are available.

‘“We are not going to make a submission to Queanbeyan Palerang regional Council on this development.” 

Meanwhile, The Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council said they had not yet formed a view on the permissibility of the proposed development.

“The permissibility of the development is a key determinant in the assessment of the application,” the spokepserson said.

“As several submitters have indicated - if the development is not permissible then the council cannot approve the application. 

“While the council appreciates the matters raised by submitters, the council needs to form its own view on whether the development is permissible. 

“This will be addressed as part of the assessment of the DA.

“At this stage we are not able to indicate a time frame for resolution of identified issues and when the DA will be presented to the council.”

This story Is it an ‘unlawful’ range? first appeared on Goulburn Post.