The following text is a letter I have submitted to the Jimboomba Times today (14/11/13), it’s pretty much a last-ditch attempt to shame those in Logan Council who have refused to help us in making our living environment safe.
Once there was a quiet rural residential enclave in the Ison/Begley/Farm Road area of Greenbank. People enjoyed their acreage lifestyles surrounded by trees and wildlife. There were a few small farms in the area, and residents would often wave to the farmers working in the fields as they drove past.
Then everything changed. Some of the small farms decided to farm more intensively, and erected greenhouses from fenceline to fenceline, some as close as ten metres from their neighbours’ homes and water tanks. Residents pointed out that State Government guidelines quite clearly state that minimum buffer areas should apply to protect neighbours from exposure to the tools of these farmers’ trade: soil fumigants, agrochemicals, fertilizers, dust, and noise. These guidelines were formulated by farmers.
Residents became concerned when they observed illnesses in their pets, fowl and livestock, and in some cases, their children. On several occasions, following farm spraying, they discovered dying and dead magpies on their properties and reported this to local media and the Council. One councillor responded by accusing the residents of killing the birds, saying they were ‘anti-farmer’. Then the head of a statewide farmer’s advocacy group weighed in, insisting that farming in this area was ‘heavily regulated’.
Residents did their research and discovered that this ‘regulation’ only existed in the form of farmers being aware of the guidelines regarding buffer zones and chemical use. Whether they chose to comply to avoid impacting on neighbours was not overseen at all. That we had already experienced so many impacts proved the need for more regulation.
Complaints to Council produced little result. Then, in 2012, residents celebrated when, following 58 objection letters from nearby residents, a farm on Harvest Rd was refused permission to erect igloos. Planning’s written decision showed that they recognised that this type of farming could potentially compromise the health and amenity of residents, and the refusal listed the impacts we had reported.
Fast forward to the last Council election: residents showed up to vote and discovered this section of Greenbank has been moved to a different division! Then Council proposed Amendment 1C to the former Beaudesert Shire Plan, which would eliminate all public notification of proposed farms, slash the recommended buffer zones from 300 metres to 10, and require no development applications to be lodged. Residents again objected.
Thompson Rd residents are probably unaware that two large new igloo farms are now about to be established on their street. Here is Planning’s response to queries about the lack of public notification: “An application was lodged at the subject site and during the assessment process Council Officers identified that due to the existing use rights the application was not required.”
So there you have it. If you want to ‘farm’ in Greenbank you are now free to clearfell, erect igloos with no oversight, and spray chemicals near your neighbours. Our pleas over eight years for these ‘existing use rights’ to be modified to reflect our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. And we are left living in the midst of it. If this concerns you, now is the time to lodge your objection with Cr Smith, and ask him why he has supported this situation.
Here is his email address: LaurieSmith@logan.qld.gov.au