Tharwa business owners say they will challenge an ACT government fine after they were forced to close down over a lease breach.
Brendan Read and Tim Liston started their adventure buggy business on Mr Read's parent's property the day before a coronavirus shutdown was imposed nationwide.
Mr Read said Aussie Buggy Adventures had gained traction since reopening and had been booked out for the next month.
However, the business has been forced to shut down after it was served with an infringement notice for breaches of the property's crown lease.
The owners were hit with a $6000 fine and the landlord a $1200 fine. Two employees have lost their jobs amid the forced closure.
The ACT government said the operators had been offered the opportunity to apply to vary their lease twice in the past six months - but it wasn't taken up.
Mr Read said the pair had gone through "five or six levels of government" to get the correct permissions to push ahead with the new venture, but had received mixed messages from different directorates.
"We changed our land management plan to include outdoor recreation and farm tourism and we thought we'd done enough to start a business," he said.
Mr Read said farm tourism had been listed as an ancillary use of the land on the lease.
However Access Canberra inspectors hadn't deemed the buggy business as supplementary, he said.
The pair planned to take the matter to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to appeal the fines.
"We think we have a case, and the case is the ancillary use of the farm would mean farming operations still need to be the first and foremost," Mr Read said.
"The farm is still a working farm. We close and open gates, we drive past cattle and sheep. We're just driving some buggies on it enjoying the sites."
Mr Read said they had planned to make the changes to the crown lease but had understood they could carry on with the updated land management plan in the interim.
"Planning laws need to be simplified for rural land owners," he said. He called on the government to allow buggies to get back to business during the process to vary the lease, which could take months.
An ACT government spokesman said the business operators had been provided the opportunity to lodge a development application to vary the crown lease, which would have allowed them to legally operate. The offers were made in letters sent in January and late April.
The operators "unfortunately" chose not to make the application, the spokesman said.
The operators were served with a prohibition notice on June 11 before being hit with the fines on July 3.
"This is a long running and complicated issue and the government is continuing to engage with the business, the lease holder, and the owners of surrounding properties who have raised concerns about this business activity to get the best outcome for the business and the community," the spokesman said.
"The government has sought to provide the business, residents and broader community with as much information and assistance as possible throughout this process."
Opposition business and tourism spokesman Andrew Wall said the business had done everything possible to operate within the rules.
"This is a time when the government should be giving clear direction on anyone looking to invest in the ACT, particularly in the tourism sector," Mr Wall said.
"We have a government that is incapable of interpreting its planning system, incapable of providing clear guidance to a business."
The government spokesman said Mr Wall's "grandstanding" was not helping anyone. Mr Wall's office would be given a briefing on the situation, he said.
With uncertainty ahead for Aussie Buggie Adventures, two staff members have lost their jobs and the owners are looking at all the alternatives.
"We got lease repayments to make on buggies every month and ongoing costs that aren't going away," Mr Read said.
"There are other options where we buy a property in NSW and run it in NSW."