By CHELSEA CORMELL
BUREAUCRACY gone mad is how the state planning department's handling of rural planning proposal SPP11 has been described.
Drafting the policy more than 18 months ago, the department has come under strong criticism from farming groups for its lack of consultation with those most affected by proposed changes.
PGA property rights policy director Edgar Richardson said farmers were shocked in October when they discovered that the proposal was still active.
"It is a document that has spuriously been brought up through the ranks," he said.
"Not nearly enough consultation has occurred between the creators of the document and those it will impact on."
Mr Richarson said the policy threatened to strip farmers of their rights to use their land how they saw fit and placed too much "discretionary" power in the hands of bureaucrats.
"If used to the letter of the law, we could have town planners telling farmers what they can and can't grow on their land," he said.
WAFarmers policy director Andy McMillan agreed it was concerning no further consultation had taken place until last week, when members from the planning department met with PGA and WAFarmers.
He said WAFarmers had been generally supportive of the proposal, which it believed was designed to protect "genuine" farmers having activities encroached upon by other land users, but changes needed to be made.
Both groups were pleased an agreement was reached at the meeting to review the document and release it for public comment.
But Mr Richardson said the January 9 deadline set by the planning department was ridiculous.
He said the date was set to match a meeting between the planning department and Agriculture Minister Kim Chance, but was an impossible time frame for farmers to meet.
Mr Richardson said farmers were busy with "more important things than SPP11" at this time of the year.
"This just creates a bit more red tape for people in rural WA that they don't need," he said.