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25 January, 2022

Furore over van park proposal

CARAVAN park owners and managers fear a proposal by Tablelands Regional Council to allow “mini caravan parks” on rural properties will undermine their businesses, threaten the environment and put pressure on rural roads designed only for local traffic.

By Robyn Holmes

The council is proposing an amendment to its planning scheme which would allow properties in the rural, rural residential and emerging communities zones to establish “self-contained recreational vehicle grounds” that could host as many as 20 RVs for up to 13 nights without a development permit. 

Owners and managers of 11 caravan and tourist parks from Atherton, Tinaroo, Millaa Millaa, Malanda, Herberton and Walkamin gathered last week (pictured) to discuss the amendment which has left them dismayed and confused as to why it has been proposed in the first place. 

Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park owner Lachlan Farquharson said the group were shocked at the proposed changes when there was no demonstrated need to provide more unpowered sites in the region as none of the existing parks had ever reached capacity. 

“This proposal only looks to provide unpowered sites on these properties and when there is always room at existing caravan parks, we question why you would need to do that,” he said. 

“No-one from council approached us to discuss this before they put this up and we would not even had known about it if someone had not drawn it to our attention.” 

He said caravan park owners had paid dearly to establish their businesses and continue to invest in them with better facilities and services, as well as having to adhere to a myriad of rules, regulations and permits so they can operate – something landowners who apply for the mini-caravan parks would not have to do. 

“We offer a controlled environment which means there are proper facilities like amenity blocks, dump points, and fire systems and processes in place which gives added safety to users. None of this would be required for landowners under the council’s proposal.” 

This raised concerns about where grey water will be disposed of, with some caravan park owners claiming travellers are already sneaking into their facilities at night to use their dump points. 

“We know there are properties right now that that are allowing RVs to stay on their land illegally and no one from council is policing that so how are they going to police this if the flood gates get opened?” Mr Farquharson said. 

A Malanda landowner, who did not want to be named, said he had witnessed a lot of illegal camping and caravans on properties in the area and was concerned that if the planning amendment went through, there would be no stopping it from proliferating all over the region. 

“I really can’t see why they (TRC) is doing this when there is no need – it’s already happening out there and the council can’t seem to police it so how are they going to control the numbers?” he said. 

“When you are trying to move cattle along the road and you’re greeted with a big Dodge Ram towing a caravan coming towards you, it isn’t good. These roads were not made for these types of movements.” 

He had seen caravans parked along creeks at the back of properties and had no doubt they were probably being used for the disposal of grey water. 

“And most landowners I have come across don’t even know this planning amendment is being proposed and I fear if it goes ahead, you will open the flood gates,” he said. 

The proposed changes are open for public consultation until 16 February. Go to the TRC website under Have Your Say.


  • Landowners may establish a smallscale tourist accommodation facility on a site 2ha or larger without a development permit 
  • Rural, Rural residential and Emerging Communities zones can host six self-contained vehicles for up to six consecutive nights 
  • Larger Rural zone properties (Broad Hectare and Agricultural Investigation Precincts) can host 20 self-contained vehicles for up to 13 consecutive nights 
  • If the property does not utilise urban stormwater infrastructure, and reticulated water or sewerage networks, council’s infrastructure charge will be $750 per site 
  • If the property has the benefit of all council’s infrastructure networks, it will be charged $2500 per site 
  • For properties hosting more than 11 vehicles, at least one unisex toilet, a dump point and a central refuse collection bin must be provided

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