Here’s my letter to Jimboomba Times laying out the impacts residents have experienced in Greenbank over the past decade while Councils refuse to rein in unsafe farming practices in our residential areas.
I would assume that a number of local residents did contact Cr Smith over his lack of representation of our concerns, but we have no way of knowing how many. Only Cr Trevina Schwartz voted against Amendment 1C on the basis that the buffer zones proposed were not substantial large enough to protect residents. Cr Smith, as usual, went along with the status quo. Here’s (below, click on the link) the letter I received about the amendment being passed. You’ll note it is signed by one person in Council on behalf of someone else, but if I wanted to discuss this with anyone I am advised to contact a third person. This is typical of Logan Council’s behaviour in this matter – they make it impossible for residents to form a relationship with anyone in the bureaucracy who might then gain an understanding of the complex issues and history involved, instead preferring to shunt us between various bureaucrats, all of whom tell us different things. (Thus, earlier this year, one Shane Mansfield from Planning wrote to me insisting the farms were a ‘rural’, and not a ‘commercial’ use and therefore don’t have to be regulated. Later correspondence from Cr Smith described these operations as a ‘business’. So which is it? Are these farms that box up, truck out, and sell their produce a ‘commercial’ or a ‘rural’ use? As far as we’re concerned, it’s all semantics designed to maintain the current situation. In other words, what we are told depends on who we talk to, and this changes frequently. It appears that Council thinks that if they just continually shift the goal posts residents will just go away and stop objecting. That is NOT going to happen. We live here and have sunk everything we have into our home and property, as have our neighbours, and we will fight to protect our lifestyle for as long as it takes.
So forgive me for my belief that we are being ‘managed’, when what we are asking for is ‘representation’, but that is certainly what it looks like. One of our objections was based on information from Council itself explaining the proposed changes. Some months ago, they sent this to a journalist, who passed it on to us for comment. Our comments about the obfuscatory wording being introduced, which to us looks like an attempt to blur the boundaries between open and igloo farms, (information which was contained in their own explanation), is now stated to be not the case after we challenged it.
Some more weasel words appear in the above document under point 7: ‘State Planning Policy 1/92 … applies only to “good quality agricultural land”. The rural residential areas affected by Council’s proposed amendment are not good quality agricultural land”. Oh really? If the land is ‘not good quality’, what does that mean for residents? It’s pretty obvious. More fertilizers, more agchems, more of the impacts we’ve reported. This is just semantic BS – regardless of the quality of the land, the impacts are the same, if not worse, when land is of poor quality. This kind of hair splitting is typical of an intransigent Council that refuses to act. Many of us living here have wondered if there’s some kind of payola going on, given how consistent they have been in helping more farms to set up, despite continual complaints about impacts and ‘incidents’ from residents over many years.
Local media again asked us for comment on the passing of the Amendment and published an article on December 4, 2013. Read the report below.
So, now it’s going to the State Government for approval from the Planning Minsiter, Jeff Seeney. If it passes, we can look forward to a whole lot of igloo farms suddently going up before the new Planning Scheme is released in February. With no prescribed buffer zones and no protection for neighboring residents. If you don’t want this to happen, write to Seeney at Callide@parliament.qld.gov.au. Tell him what residents have endured out here as farms continue to industrialise our residential neighborhood. They have been aided and abetted by Logan City Council, regardless of how many people have objected, and regardless of the many ‘incidents’ that have occurred as a result of the lack of regulation of chemical and fertilizer use.
Send your letters also to Ian Rickuss, member for Lockyer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These practices are unsafe and a health risk, and should not be allowed in a residential area. Especially after these farmers have proved to us many times that they are incapable of being good neighbours, incapable of safely storing agricultural chemicals, and incapable of preventing impacts on wildlife from their activities. Have a trawl through our archives if you don’t believe me: there have been at least THREE incidents in the past 3 years of native birds dropping from the sky following spraying; a creek was FILLED IN by farmers, causing flooding to neighbours upstream; a vat of toxic Metham Sodium washed down Crewes Creek, requiring a Hazmat team to remove it. Not to mention busts for drugs, cockfighting rings, and welfare fraud. We deserve better than this acceptance and support of dangerous and criminal activities right next to where we live.