UPDATE October 2013 on Amendment 1C

As reported in July, Logan City Council called for public comment on ‘Amendment 1c to Beaudesert Shire Planning Scheme 2007 (Open Field Market Gardens)’.   (Our posts on this, for background, are at the bottom of this page.)

Information on the submission process was sent to 60 local residents, who had already made submissions in the past objecting to the encroachment of intensive agricultural activities on our rural residential lifestyles.  We do not know how many submissions were received this time as, this not being a development application, LCC has not posted the submissions on their website, so we have no way of knowing.   If anyone reading this made a submission and would like to send it for inclusion on this site, please feel free. (Find our email on the Contact Us page.  Of course we will remove any personal details before posting on request.)

To us, this Amendment is simply a way of addressing residents’ oft-stated concerns by simply removing any public notification process and, therefore, our right to object to inappropriate developments in our neighborhood.  Way to go, Logan City Council!  Residents aren’t happy so you just deny us a voice!  One wonders WHY these ‘farmers’, whose dangerous activities have been well-documented on this blog. continue to be aided and abetted by Council in defiance of residents’ wishes.  We are disgusted at this development and ask Council to start representing our interests instead of pandering to commercial interests they continue to claim are ‘non-commercial’ and ‘rural’ uses.

FYI, here are the two submissions we at The Mozzie submitted to Council over this matter.

August 8, 2013

Re: Planning Amendment 1C to BSPS2007

Dear Planning Department,

I am absolutely astonished at LCC’s latest attempt to be appearing to ‘regulate’ agriculture in Logan by proposing these amendments.  

The amendments do little to address existing problems created by farms being located too close to homes, and, in fact, deprive residents of the right to object by getting rid of public notification requirements!  This is undemocratic and completely unacceptable.  We live here and have the right to be made aware of any proposed developments.

The amendment also plays semantics with the words it uses to describe ‘Agriculture’ and ‘Intensive Agriculture’ by introducing a new term, ‘intensive outdoor horticultural production’ that seems designed to muddy the waters between the two types of farming. How interesting,  given that we have seen an open field farm on Harvest Rd erect igloos right up to their neighbours’ fence line with NO development approval, and THEN seek to have these illegally erected structures retrospectively approved years later, with no application for Material Change of Use.  Despite our written objections at the time, Council ignored our concerns and approved these structures.  Given this history, I believe the use of this new term is designed to allow the farms to continue to do whatever they want in our rural residential neighbourhood, with the full support of Council.  Again, this is completely unacceptable.

Buffer zones, as outlined in SP1/92 should be a non-negotiable requirement for ALL farms.  The State Government, and farmers’ and environment groups were instrumental in devising these guidelines, proving they ALL understand the risks to neighbouring ‘sensitive receptors’ if the buffers are not provided.   So what’s wrong with following these guidelines, instead of bending over backwards to aid and abet the worst offenders?   Why do non-resident farmers have such support from Council, while residents do not?  It is little wonder that we residents feel we cannot trust Council to protect our interests when this type of obfuscatory nonsense is trotted out under the guise of ‘public consultation’.

To allow farming in residential precincts on lots as small as 2 acres is simply asking for more of the problems residents have reported. There is no way adequate buffer areas can be provided on such small acreages, which is why such farms should routinely be disallowed.

Further, we all know that Logan’s waterways are in a parlous state, and there is no doubt that here in Greenbank chemically-laden and fertilizer-laden runoff from farms ends up in Crewes Creek, and subsequently the Oxley River, following the regular heavy rain events we experience here.  To state, as the amendment does, that farms must contain their runoff, except when it rains heavily, provides NO protection for neighbours or waterways and is, again, unacceptable. 

Similarly, to have ‘no solution prescribed’ as the Planning Department’s response to the need to ‘ensure chemical spray drift does not reach adjoining premises’ is not good enough.  Planning’s written reasons for refusing the Material Change of Use application for 51-63 Harvest Rd over a year ago acknowledged residents’ concerns in the strongest terms, and supported our right to a safe living environment.    So how about giving up with this fiddling around the edges of an old Planning Instrument from a defunct council and instead write and enforce rules consummate with the Planning Department’s own findings and decisions?

As a resident and ratepayer, I have to say that I have been absolutely disgusted at the campaign waged against residents who have objected to the intolerable situation that has been allowed to develop here in Greenbank by:

(a) slandering us in the local press;

(b) painting us as ‘radicals’ and ‘troublemakers’;

(c) accusing us of being responsible for wildlife deaths that we witnessed and filmed that occurred following several nights of spraying on the adjoining farm

(d) enlisting the support of the CEO of Growcom to attack us in the local press – bearing in mind that we had approached that same CEO in 2011 asking for his assistance in sorting out the issue of impacts, and he did not respond. 

As residents, we have every right to complain about unsafe farming practices close to our homes, and to demand that Council do something about it.   And we have done this, over and over again.  Over 60 residents have expended copious amounts of time and money over 8 long years trying to get some action on this matter.  Unlike Councillors, CEOs and employees of the Planning Department, we are not remunerated for our efforts. 

It’s time we were listened to and our concerns taken seriously.  My neighbours and I have better things to do with our time than continually fight Council, but if this situation continues we will have no choice but to instigate a class action on behalf of the residents to mitigate the effects these practices have had on residents’ health, livestock, amenity and property values.   Obviously, we’d prefer to get on with our lives, so how about Planning doing its job and making such action unnecessary?

Sincerely

Liz Hall-Downs

August 8, 2013

Re: Planning Amendment 1C

Dear Planning Department,

To my mind there are two primary problems this amendment should be trying to address. Firstly, the measures introduced should offer regulations which ensure that any future farming developments do not adversely affect the environment and any ‘sensitive receptors’ living nearby. Secondly, the new regulations should offer some help to the residents and pre-existing farms set up without adequate buffer areas, to mitigate the sorts of problems many of us continue to experience.

As far as future farm development is concerned, the simplest way to solve the issue is simply to ban any further development of farms in the ‘Rural Residential Precinct’. Problem one solved in one swoop. Nice and easy. Barring that, LCC will have to develop a complex set of regulations. To my mind these regulations should adopt the guidelines SPP 1/92 which call for minimum buffer areas around farming activity of 40 metres (if this 40 metres is a heavily vegetated buffer area) and 300 metres across open field. This would necessitate increasing the lot size of future farms, as 8000 sq metres is wholly inadequate to provide for a buffer area.

In addition, farms should not be anywhere near a seasonal creek or existing waterway and under no circumstances should their toxic spill dams be allowed to simply overflow into a creek under a heavy rain event. Trying to develop regulations and implement them to offset such problems as discussed above will be a tangled fraught affair that will probably leave no one entirely satisfied. Again, merely banning any more farms from being developed in the Rural Residential Precinct would sweep away all these complex problems.

As for the pre-existing farms, there are many which already ruin the amenity around them, pollute the waterways, offend their neighbours with dust, odour, noise, put people and pets at risk with spray drift issues and so on. LCC cannot continue to simply pretend these problems don’t exist and label residents with legitimate complaints as ‘radicals’ and fools who don’t understand chemicals. This is egregious nonsense. This problem needs to be addressed yesterday and if not dealt with will absolutely result in a class action suit against LCC in the future for lack of duty of care.

I suggest setting up a liaison committee comprised of a representative of the farmers, an environmental officer from LCC, a lawyer who understands the issues, someone from the planning department etc. Residents could take their complaints to this committee and meet with the farmer in question. Some of the problems could be solved by merely erecting a fence, re-doing reticulation work, dismantling igloos 15 metres from a residence, recreating a dam spillway in another direction and so on. Farmers should not be immune from being forced to cooperate and compromise in the worst case scenarios. This system is not perfect and would not solve all the problems. It would, however, give many affected residents a ‘voice’ where they have had none before, and go some way to solving some of the existing problems. If this committee had a ‘budget’ as well that was allocated to assist farmers and residents to afford fencing, the establishment of vegetated buffer areas, reticulation work etc this would be even more effective. Often the problems boil down to ‘who’s going to pay for it?’ and this would go some way towards greasing the wheels.

The bottom line is that agriculture and intensive agriculture can exist with rural residential properties if there are adequate buffer areas between them. The empirically derived buffer areas as outlined in SPP1/92 are the absolute minimum needed. Anything less will merely aggravate the situation further. Given the terrible state of the waterways in Logan generally any further farming developments will absolutely exacerbate that poor record. Count on it. In addition, given that we still have koalas and probably quolls in rural parts of the shire it seems counter- productive to do anything that would destroy the existing habitat even further. Contrary to what some like to think, farming in this area has no impact on ‘tourism’ whatsoever, but the habitat itself does. I would really appreciate it if LCC could ‘do the right thing’ and protect the health and amenity of their rural residents. Farms belong in good farming territory. Greenbank is not good farming territory. Finally, if LCC is going to continue to allow farms in this precinct, under no circumstances should they be allowed to do away with the public notification process for new farm development applications. This is draconian rubbish and I can’t believe they even suggested it. Get with the program LCC and solve this issue. We are watching you like hawks and we are not going away.

Yours sincerely

Kim Downs

We received a form letter response on August 20, which we have reproduced below.  Note in particular the third paragraph: ‘It will take several months for Council to consider all the submissions. You will not be advised of the outcome of your submission until after Council has determined to proceed further with the amendment.’.

How are we to interpret this? That Council has every intention of proceeding with the amendment, regardless of our objections, and that we, the residents and ratepayers, will not be informed?   Democracy in action, anyone? What a f***ing joke!

LCC Aug 2013 #1

In conclusion, we have devoted a year of our lives to this issue, via posting all relevant information on this blog.  It has cost us thousands of hours in unpaid work, and hundreds of dollars in postal and administrative fees.  We are the latest in a long line of residents who have devoted similar amounts of time and resources in trying to get ‘our’ Council to listen to our legitimate concerns and take some action to protect our health and amenity. Council seems determined to push ahead with this steady industrialisation of our living environment in direct contradiction to the desires of the majority of residents.

At this point, we feel we have done all we can.  However, we will continue to share information as it comes to hand. Hopefully others will also find the time and energy to continue this fight, and we give any such motivated person full permission to use any information from this blog for this purpose.  Council’s combative  attitude towards affected residents leaves us despairing for ourselves and our neighbours, and for the fate of our abundant local wildlife.

The only bright light on this horizon is that one Greenbank resident has recently served his neighbouring farmers with a $250,000 lawsuit – the amount, according to expert advice, required to mitigate the impacts they have caused to his property and lifestyle through inappropriate earthworks that have caused dam leakage and structural damage to his home.   We can only hope that this attack on the farmers’ back pockets might make them reconsider their push to turn our neighborhood into one vast chemical-spraying intensive farm.  If any news comes to hand on this matter, we will, of course, post it on this blog.

BACKGROUND – PREVIOUS POSTS ON THIS MATTER FROM JULY 2013

Changes to the Planning Guidelines regarding ‘Agriculture’ in the area that was previously part of Beaudesert Shire have been released for public comment by Logan City Council.  You can read the whole document by clicking the links below.   We believe this draft plan is an obfuscatory document that DOES NOT adequately deal with residents’ longstanding concerns.  Submission deadline to Logan City Council is August 9, 2013.   if you have any rural residential block that is 2 acres or larger adjacent to you, it will be legally allowed to be cleared for ‘Agriculture’ – which, unfortunately for us, has often entailed the use of soil fumigants, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides close to our homes and water tanks.
We have put together a precis of the relevant documents released for comment by Council, and, at the end of the document,  a series of points residents might like to use in their submissions.
Click HERE:  https://safegreenbanknow.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/submission-guidelines.pdf
Further ammunition is contained in the following link, which outlines the grounds for refusal by Logan council’s OWN Planning Department of a development application for an igloo-style intensive agriculture development in Harvest rd in 2011-12.  These same points can be aimed back at LCC as grounds for disputing this new Amendment 1C to the Beaudesert Shire Planning Scheme 2007 (BSPC2007).
https://safegreenbanknow.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/refusal-grounds.pdf
We believe, regardless of whether small farms are open field or protected horticulture, and regardless of whether they are ‘intensive’ or not, if they are using the cocktail of agricultural chemicals non-organic growers use, they MUST provide adequate buffers between their activities and rural residents.  Further, we believe that existing houses should not be subsequently impinged unpon by this type of development.
July 2, 2013.
When we talk to the media, we have no control over how our case is presented and have to trust that we’ve managed to get our point across.  On Friday June 28, a group of Greenbank residents attended a photo shoot for the Jimboomba Times, who had asked for responses to the new latest planning document.  People would be aware of our green ‘eye’ signs which are dotted around the neighborhood on fences and mailboxes.  Well, this time we decided to become full-blown placard-wavers!  And if you are visiting this site for the first time as a result of the JT’s coverage, I guess we’ve been effective 🙂
(July 5 update: see their coverage, and our commentary of it, in the blogpost on the right of this page.)
The issue this site is attempting to address relates to a lack of compliance with the Qld State Government Guidelines regarding buffer areas between farming activities and residences.  Greenbank has been zoned rural residential since the 1970s; problems have arisen as small acreage lots have been turned into farms – either open field or protected horticulture.  As the intensity of farming activity has increased, so too have impacts on existing residents. Exposure to chemical spray drift, dust,  odour, drainage problems, sick and dying wildlife and domestic pets and fowl – these are just some of the issues residents have spoken and written about and sought to have addressed.
We have been attempting to influence Logan City Council to address anomalies in the 3 different Planning Schemes they administer (Yes, THREE!) so that the impacts and resulting dissent caused by the Greenbank situation does not happen again.  A new Planning Scheme has been in the works for some months now, and we’ve been waiting to see if it will embrace <strong>SPP1/92, the State Planning Guideline that specifies minimum distances between farm operations and homes.  Note that these guidelines were formulated by the Qld Government IN CONSULTATION WITH FARMER’S GROUPS (including Growcom, Australian Cotton Growers Assoc., sundry agricultural scientists, etc). </strong>
But they are Guidelines only. ALL ALONG, WE HAVE BEEN ASKING LOGAN CITY COUNCIL TO ADOPT THESE GUIDELINES AS STANDARD.  WE WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SEE SOME ATTEMPT BY COUNCIL  TO  MITIGATE THE IMPACTS FROM EXISTING FARMS THAT DO NOT COMPLY WITH THESE GUIDELINES. THIS COULD BE AS SIMPLE AS REQUIRING FARMS TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE FENCING AND  PLANT VEGETATION.
Our point is simple: AMENDMENT 1C DOES NOT ADDRESS the issues we’ve raised, and still leaves residents exposed to the impacts we’ve mentioned.

 

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One response to “UPDATE October 2013 on Amendment 1C

  1. Reblogged this on The Greenbank Mozzie and commented:

    Logan Council seems determined to stop residents from having a say in how their neighborhoods are developed.

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