THE application for a buffer zone around Burra Foods’ factory in Korumburra is classic overkill.
And the South Gippsland Shire Council should find a less draconian way to achieve planning control over new developments in the area, which they have the power to do, no matter what the Planning Panels Victoria recommendations might be.
Unfortunately, the waters were muddied considerably by last week’s panel hearing.
Some people appeared before the panel simply to complain about Burra Foods.
Ironically, their complaints about truck and traffic safety, noise, odour, environmental incidents and other ‘whoopsies’ emanating from the plant actually bolstered the argument for a buffer zone to be established.
Others who appeared before the panel were clearer about the issue at hand – it’ll cost them, not Burra Foods.
They said they supported the presence of Burra Foods in Korumburra as a key industry for the region and an important local employer.
But they said it was up to Burra Foods to comply with the regulations that already exist and for the responsible authorities, including the EPA and the council, to ensure that they do.
They said the introduction of a buffer zone would do nothing to get Burra Foods to comply and they’re right.
All that it would do is require home owners inside the buffer area to have a warning notice placed on their title, informing possible purchasers and new residents to the town, that there is a milk factory nearby and incidents affecting them may occur in the future.
The planning controls associated with the proposed buffer zone would also stop existing landowners from undertaking certain developments, such as building a children’s centre, a block of units or other ‘sensitive’ land uses within a specific distance of the plant.
It would also ensure that buildings were sited and constructed in a certain way.
There is to be no compensation for this.
These planning controls do have some merit as there might be proposed uses, allowable in a ‘Residential’ zone, that should be discouraged within close proximity of the factory.
But having a buffer zone simply to cut down on complaints is too high a price to pay.
Whether Planning Panels Victoria or the shire believes it or not, the introduction of a buffer zone would hit property values, even their saleability, and it’s unfair that individual home owners should have to bear the cost.
Quite clearly there is a factory on top of the hill above the town and according to presenter, Gloria Cooke, this has been the case since August 27, 1900.
In an ideal world, you would have had a control boundary around the plant well before now but the town has long since grown up around it and, in this case, you simply can’t unscramble the egg – it would cost the local home owners too much for the shire and Burra Foods to do so.
There’s an element of ‘caveat emptor’ or let the buyer beware in all this because it’s quite obvious that the factory is there, and if it improves its compliance standards, there shouldn’t be a problem, either for new residents or those that want to develop the land they already own in the future.
Buffer too high a price to pay