Kernot resident David Trigg handed his objection to the milk processing factory at council’s customer service centre in Wonthaggi last week. David and his wife, Marie, are former owners of the property owned by Ningbo Dairy Group. The couple, who still reside on a beef farm near their old property, say they are objecting to the proposal on a number of grounds, including an increase in traffic, visual and social amenity, disposal of waste water and waste material and the “extremely high stocking rate” of 1000 cows on the property.
RESIDENTS concerned about proposed $6 million milk processing development in the small rural town of Kernot have been invited to a community information session at the town’s hall on Thursday, February 12.
The announcement was made while Bass Coast Shire Council was in damage control last week, reassuring the community that it’s listening after it was revealed in last week’s Sentinel-Times (‘Chinese Takeaway) that the Loch-Kernot Road property owned by Chinese milk giant, the Ningbo Dairy Group, was subject to a planning permit application lodged just before Christmas.
Many locals only heard about the project at a community function on Australia Day, since the council’s planning department did not require the applicant to advertise, aside from a small sign out the front of the subject property and letters posted to less than a dozen nearby landowners.
Leadbeater ward councillor, Clare Le Serve, revealed she only just read the project proposal last Wednesday, January 28 – the day submissions were originally scheduled to close.
She told the Sentinel-Times that council’s planning department emailed her on Christmas Eve with limited details of the planning application, but she had already gone on leave until January 19.
Cr Le Serve said the timing of being informed of the project was “not ideal”.
She also said she believes it should have been advertised more broadly.
“It’s a big project and it could have a big impact on the local community,” she said.
Cr Le Serve requested an urgent briefing on the proposal be delivered to all councillors last Wednesday.
“I’m a bit stunned by the scale of the project for a small hamlet like Kernot,” she said afterwards, referring to the mammoth free-stall feeding barn, bottling plant, cool store and associated car parking detailed in the proposal.
Cr Le Serve said the environmental impact and suitability of the location will be key factors to consider as the planning process moves forward.
“There are a lot of things that need to be presented, including an Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report.
“There are lots of things that need to be considered before I’m convinced this is the right project in the right location.”
The public information session at Kernot Community Hall will start at 6pm on February 12.
Meanwhile, the council’s CEO, Paul Buckley, reiterated that submissions will be accepted for another two months.
“Council will consider the application around mid to late-April, so we will continue to accept submissions up until the end of March to enable them to be included in the final report,” Mr Buckley said.
Site is on the inundation map
BASS Coast Shire Council’s general manager of Sustainable Development and Growth, Jodi Kennedy, confirmed that 1010 Loch-Kernot Road is on the list of properties affected by the council’s proposed Land Subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO, otherwise known as Amendment C82).
“The proposed LSIO will impact on a small portion of the subject property and this will be considered as part of the assessment of the application,” Ms Kennedy said.
Cr Le Serve said the property’s proximity to the Bass River is worrying, particularly if effluent isn’t properly contained.
“There are other farms locally that milk 1000 cows, but they don’t put them in feed lots,” she said.
“That amount of cattle will produce an enormous amount of waste, and I haven’t been convinced (the applicant) will deal with the waste appropriately.”
Cr Le Serve also pointed out that the property, which currently holds around 450 cows, is not on mains water.
“They would need a huge amount of fresh water to run a milking plant on that property – how are they going to get that?
“That to me is a red flag.”