WE’RE not ungrateful about the development that has gone on at Burra Foods in Korumburra over the past two decades, quite the opposite.
Everyone, even those who are periodically affected by the odour and sometimes by the noise coming from the plant agree; the 140-plus jobs that have been created at the site have saved the town.
We’d love to see more jobs there.
The arrival of Grant Crothers and his family, formerly the owners of Midland Milk at Shepparton, to take over the old Murray Goulburn plant, was a dream outcome for Korumburra, one that we could never have hoped to see after the departure of the big Aussie co-op.
There’s a high degree of goodwill in the town towards Burra Foods.
They’re here now, they’ve made a success of the operation and via its partnership with Japanese trading company Itochu, we have direct access into the burgeoning dairy markets in Asia.
It’s exactly what Korumburra needed.
The plant must stay and hopefully develop further.
So, Burra Foods should not take it the wrong way, that homeowners who attended a public meeting in the town last Thursday night were critical of the company’s application for a restrictive planning overlay, over their properties, designed to protect the future of the plant.
They’d also like to see Burra Foods continued to improve the standard effluent and odour emanating from the plant – and hopefully the EPA will keep them up to the mark there.
It’s understandable that Burra Foods would want to protect its investment, especially as it has plans to extend the operation in the years to come.
But, it is also entirely understandable that the affected residents should be concerned about their own major investment, their homes.
In fact, the overlay application adds insult to the injury they feel in having to put up with the smells.
From what we heard last Thursday night, if Amendment C99 goes through, there will be a notice placed on their Section 32 statements, if they ever come to sell their properties, almost certainly affecting the value.
They would never get approval to subdivide in the affected ESO8 area, they would have to add double glazing and sound-deadening measures if they ever wanted to extend and generally go through an exhaustive planning process if they wanted to build.
Such conditions are not in place at the moment nor do they affect other homeowners in the town.
There’s little doubt that the 40 to 50 property owners within the scope of the Amendment C99 overlay would be paying for Burra Foods peace of mind and that simply is not fair.
What we also heard last Thursday night is that Leongatha doesn’t have such an overlay around its Murray Goulburn plant and that there are other ways, less restrictive ways by which residents, living in close proximity to a milk factory, or planning to buy in the area, can be appraised of the issues.
The factory is, after all pretty obvious!
Given the likely impact on homeowners, Burra Foods and the council should now drop its application for a formal planning overlay before it causes further heartache, effort and cost and provide residents with details about some of the more palatable options.
We only ask that Burra Foods does not take such a request the wrong way, and can rest assured that it has the overwhelming support of the town’s residents and business owners for what it is doing up on the hill above Korumburra.
In the meantime the debate could do without exaggeration and acrimony while the final position is decided.