Two of the community members to present on the first day of the hearing last Wednesday included Julia Lomas and Thea Dent who both live inside the proposed buffer. They were among the 11 community members who expressed their concerns about the introduction of a planning overlay in the area.
CONCERNS that the veracity of the technical report upon which Burra Foods has based its case for a buffer zone around the factory at Korumburra continued to be aired at a Planning Panels Victoria hearing in Korumburra last week.
And they weren’t allayed by the appearance of Burra Foods’ expert witness, Tim Pollock, the author of the GHD report in question, who not only revealed several fatal flaws in the report itself but also admitted he had no experience with the environmental impact of milk factories on their surrounding area.
“I don’t have enough experience with milk factories to say what separation is needed for routine operations. The overlay is designed to minimise the impact in an accidental situation,” he said, in answer to a question seeking guidance from the South Gippsland Shire’s strategic planning coordinator, Ken Griffiths.
A highly qualified environmental engineer, his expertise with dispersal modelling has principally related to concrete batching plants, he said.
Mr Pollock was to have been the star turn in Burra Foods’ submission to the panel last Wednesday, but at the end of his testimony which included explanations about the GHD report, the community remained unconvinced about its status as the main technical reference document for the application.
Mr Pollock said the report had been purely a desktop assessment of the impact of dust, odour and noise on the surrounding area with actual incidents at the plant not documented when setting the appropriate size and location of the planning overlay.
He said the dusk particle report had been based on operations at Fonterra’s Darnum plant not Korumburra.
“Milk powder is not an aggressive particulate,” he said, noting that there would barely be enough to discolour the surface of the water in a domestic tank.”
Glenn and Samantha Brown, who made their personal submission last Thursday, December 4, begged to differ.
Mr Pollock said metrological data had been combined with EPA incident data to assess impact, not the actual events themselves with the weather patterns on the day.
He also admitted that the modelling had not included the impact of a proposed new dryer and canning line.
Earlier, Mr Griffiths from the shire told the panel the authority was prepared to accept the recommendations of the GHD document for a 300 metre separation as they weren’t significantly at odds with the recommended separation distance in Clause 52.10 of the Victorian Planning Scheme for “uses with adverse amenity potential”.
It may be the shire has altered its view after hearing from Mr Pollock last week.
Burra Foods submission was presented by Amanda Johns of the commercial law firm Thomson Geer who said the Environmental Significance Overlay was needed to deal with potential conflict between the industrial and residential land uses in the area, to protect residents from potential off-site impacts, to alert potential purchases of possible problems and to provide a mechanism for these conflicts to be dealt with while allowing the on-going operation and future upgrading of an important industry.
There were a total of 11 community submissions at the two-day panel hearing last week, most of them from affected residents. The submitters included Neil Olsen; Christine McKenzie; Viv Pepper, Liz Jones and Les Guilfoyle who were praised for the quality of their submission; Ross Harris, Ron Hutton, Thea Dent, Glenn and Samantha Brown and Mark Olsen.