Jimboomba Times, September-November, 2011

JT September 7, 2011

Click the above link to see residents protesting another bird dieoff in Thompson Rd, Greenbank.

Another response from me that the JT wouldn’t publish:

September 9, 2011

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Jimboomba Times for its front page coverage of the recent spate of wild bird deaths in Greenbank, deaths that many residents believe were caused by the spraying of industrial and agricultural chemicals on market garden crops.

But I have to say that my husband and I both laughed out loud at the statement that ‘Logan City Council is currently  reviewing State Government recommendations which could see tougher restrictions on its legislation concerning market gardens’.   Greenbank residents have been writing, phoning, and begging Logan Council to address this issue for several years;  it might interest readers to know that on a recent visit to a local market garden, (instigated by our complaints over spray drift and rubbish accumulation), council officers were shown a copy of the State Government guidelines and admitted that they had never seen them before.   They also kept insisting that the existing farms were ‘non-assessable’.

For the record, this document (‘Planning Guidelines: Separating Agricultural and Residential  Land Uses’, published by the Department of Natural Resources), was produced in consultation  with representatives from fifteen groups, including the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, the Department of Environment, and the Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers.   The guidelines specify that intensive agriculture such as that being undertaken in the numerous Greenbank ‘igloo farms’ should be a minimum of 300 metres from neighbouring dwellings, unless a substantial vegetation barrier is erected by the farmers, in which case the buffer zone is 40 metres.

Some of the Greenbank farms are within 15 metres of private dwellings. Some Greenbank residents can no longer drink their tank water as it has been contaminated following spraying and causes illness.  Some residents want to grow organic fruit and vegetables but cannot be sure their land has not been contaminated by spray drift.   Some residents keep valuable horses and livestock and are concerned for both their own, and their animals’, health when there are market gardens springing up all around them.   Farmers have bought acreage zoned rural residential, clear felled the properties, then erected igloos, in some cases with NO development or land clearing approval.  Residents have been told that council was recently considering approving some of these illegal structures retrospectively.  (Perhaps this means I can erect a few extra houses on my block without a DA too?) There has also been remarks from councillors that Greenbank is a ‘transitional zone’ where farming and residential uses can happily coexist.   To add insult to injury,  we’ve also had to endure rogue councillors from other parts of the shire (and yes, I mean you, ‘Mr Goose’) loudly defending these farming enterprises and insisting that the farmers are running nice little community-friendly enterprises, selling vegetables at the farm gate, and are following  all manufacturers’ guidelines in relation to chemical use – despite no corroborative testing on council’s part, and a litany of breaches including drums of chemicals washing down creeks, spraying and fertilising close to neighbours, birds dropping from the sky, and, in one case, farmers actually filling in a waterway, causing flooding to residents upstream.

Why does it take a front page newspaper story for Logan Council to even take a look at the guidelines (which, incidentally, have been fully accepted by other SE Qld councils without complaint) and to begin to properly address residents’ concerns?  Both the former Beaudesert Shire council and now Logan Council have dragged their feet for way too long on this issue

Might I remind Council that they are employed by us, the residents, and that we rightly expect them to prioritise our health, environment, lifestyles and property values before blindly kowtowing to commercial concerns.

Liz Hall-Downs

JT, October-November 2011

JT report (click link above) on residents plan to fight a proposed new ‘igloo’ farm on Harvest Road.  Also, my published letter on Council’s inaction and past refusal to implement State Government guidelines.

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