Our Latest Mailout, Aug 27, 2012

The following letter was sent out today, (with our ‘Letter to Councillors’ that you can find on our home page), to the Qld Premier, Campbell Newman; the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Jeff Seeney;  the Federal Member for Wright, Scott Buchholz; and the Federal Member for Logan, Michael Pucci.   An additional copy was sent to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, with the PS at the end added.   Those concerned with the way the testing process was carried out by them recently in Harvest Rd will probably find it amusing.  🙂

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

GPO Box 2454

Brisbane  Qld  4001

Dear Sir/Madam,

Further to our correspondence to you a week ago, we are writing to inform you of our recent activities on behalf of our community to get something done about poor planning decisions in this area which have left residents living with industrial-style intensive agriculture farms right next to our homes.

The State Government Planning Guidelines are very clear on this matter – that there should be buffer areas between homes and such industries of at least 40 metres if a vegetated buffer exists, or 300 metres across open ground.  We have farms in the Greenbank area that are 15-30 metres from homes, with all the accompanying problems associated with agricultural chemical exposure, noise, odour, and, periodically, sick and dying pets and wildlife.  Many of my neighbours have complained of headaches, asthma, nausea and vomiting as a direct result of farmers spraying their crops so close to where we live.

It’s a difficult situation – I believe we were simply ‘off the radar’ when, pre-amalgamation, we were at the very top part of the former Beaudesert Shire Council area, some 40 minutes’ drive away from the council chambers.   There is no doubt that some of the farms were established illegally, with no development approval, and at least one of these has been forced to demolish the structures they had built (after clear felling acres of high value native forest and, in one case, filling in a local creek to make room for more greenhouses).  Others, I believe, may well have been given development approval for a ‘farm’.  But I can assure you, these are not simply ‘small farms’.  Instead they are an industrial-style intensive industry that has no place in a residential estate.

I have enclosed letters we have written to all Logan Councillors, which we have circulated far and wide. All we have been asking is for Council or State Planning powers-that-be crack down on these operations and implement the guidelines specified in the planning scheme.

If southeast Queensland is to have more and more satellite cities, such as Ripley and Yarrabilba, set up in previously bush and rural residential areas, it is important that industries such as those I’m describing are not allowed to set up noxious and potentially injurious operations, without sufficient buffer areas, close to where people reside.

We have a website that contains a large amount of information on this issue, including the relevant sections of the State Planning Guide, submissions made to prevent another open farm from going intensive in Harvest Rd, Greenbank (these make particularly sobering reading), and a selection of local media stories that show how the debate has been playing out.  Visit safegreenbanknow.wordpress.com.

It’s my hope that you can help us in this struggle to make our neighbourhood safe for the people and wildlife that live here.

Respectfully yours

Kim Downs and Liz Hall-Downs

PS. We’d also like to express our dismay regarding your Department’s testing regime recently on a farm in Harvest Road, Greenbank, after a number of wild birds were killed from pesticides.  Soil and water samples were not taken until almost six weeks after the incident.  In that time, the farm concerned watered like crazy, trucked out their topsoil, and brought in fresh fill under cover of night, and we believe this soil is what the department tested.  Of course, ‘no dangerous levels’ of chemicals were found! To add insult to injury, your spokesman was quoted in the Jimboomba Times saying that the residents here need ‘educating’ on the use of commonly-available garden products.  Respectfully, your Department needs ‘educating’ about conducting testing in a timely fashion.

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