How much council spent fighting Wagner Corp

THE Toowoomba Regional Council has defended spending more than $1 million of ratepayer funds in a legal stoush against Wagner Corporation over infrastructure charges at the Wellcamp Business Park.

The Planning and Environment Court last month ruled, in part, the council had erred in calculating infrastructure charges at the business site anchored by Wellcamp Airport.

Others were referred back to the TRC in the latest step of a labyrinthine legal fight which has lasted more than three years and cost the council about $1,185,000.

TRC CEO Brian Pidgeon said the 39-page judgement was "not black and white, is complex in nature and found partial wins and losses for both council and the applicant".

"In this case, the litigation was instigated by the applicant," he said.

"In response, council sought expert advice and, based on this advice, determined it had limited options but to defend its policy and the financial sustainability of the council.

"Council was also mindful of the bigger picture, where an adverse judgement could also potentially affect the total amount of infrastructure charges that would ultimately be received by council as the applicant's 800 hectare (approx) Wellcamp site is incrementally developed.

"The recent judgement could have significant implications in creating a shortfall of income from the charges to fund future trunk infrastructure for the region in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars."

Mr Pidgeon said the council was considering its options with regard to the court's decision, not ruling out appealing it at a later date.

He said the council must balance the wider interests of all ratepayers and the community with supporting the development industry and "the ensuing economic benefits of development and growth".

"The recent decision of the court, as it currently stands, reverberates way beyond Toowoomba Regional Council boundaries as it has the potential to adversely affect all local governments in Queensland."

"The State Government introduced the current capped infrastructure charges framework in 2014, in response to lobbying by the development industry who wanted certainty around charges," Mr Pidgeon said.

"Council acknowledges the importance of the development industry to the growth of our region and has a responsibility to treat all developers in a consistent and equitable manner."

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