Korumburra residents say they are disappointed with the South Gippsland Shire Council’s decision to adopt the buffer zone amendment but they say they will continue their fight.
KORUMBURRA residents say they will take their fight to the Minister for Planning after the South Gippsland Shire Council approved a Buffer Zone around Burra Foods.
During last week’s council meeting, five of nine councillors opted in favour of the Environmental Significance Overlay.
And despite changes to the floor plan clause, which will mean a permit will now only be required if extensions increase the internal floor area of a home by more than 50 per cent instead of the previous 25 per cent, residents say it is not a compromise.
Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, which was attended by many Korumburra residents, Cr Jim Fawcett said it had been a “balancing act of extreme difficulty”.
“We have on one hand the right of the people that live close, then the rights of the people that work or own the site,” he said.
Cr Fawcett said while he sympathised with residents within the buffer, he believed increasing the floor plan clause would go some way to providing some compensation for the residents.
“What does ES08 mean to existing owners? Nothing. If they sell there will be a notice on Section 32, but if they don’t increase their homes by more than 50 per cent it won’t affect them,” he said.
“Future buyers can see it (the factory) staring them in the face, but this makes sure they are completely aware.”
Earlier in the day at the public briefing session, Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks asked Burra Foods CEO Grant Crothers what the impact would be on the business if the overlay was not adopted.
Cr Hutchinson-Brooks suggested there would be very little impact, however Mr Crothers said it would create certainty for his business as it plans for the future.
The residents stated Burra Foods would have nothing to worry about from its neighbours if it met EPA guidelines and limited the odour and noise emissions, which it has done in the past few months since EPA intervention.
Property owner Samantha Brown said the councillors that voted for the overlay had taken away residents’ rights.
“The fact that they have put Burra Foods first, before the residents, goes to show their ignorance,” she said.
“In that meeting I noticed there were some councillors that really listened, and others just looked like they were sitting there not listening at all.
“Why should we have to pay for council’s planning stuff-ups over the years? They just did Korumburra as a town a disfavour.”
Fellow resident Neil Olsen agreed, saying he felt the decision was morally wrong.
“If the factory did what it was supposed to do according to its licence then there would be no need for this,” he said.
“We will go to the Minister now – he has to rubber stamp it, so we will take this to him.”
Following the decision, Burra Foods CEO, Grant Crothers commended council for its “careful and considered deliberations”.
He said Burra Foods was committed to its continuous improvements policy in relation to all areas of its operations – including environmental performance.
“We take the responsibilities of our social license very seriously and recognise that Burra Foods is an important part of the fabric of Korumburra and wider Gippsland community,” he said.
“We want to ensure a viable and sustainable future for the business and our wider community – employees, dairy farmers, suppliers and neighbours.
“We are pleased that our $1.2 million investment in waste water treatment that we initiated over a year ago is now fully operational and improving performance and efficiencies, including reducing odour omissions.”
Mr Crothers said that the ESO process had highlighted how important it was that existing or potential neighbours were aware that Burra Foods is an ongoing operation and has the potential to affect the residential amenity of the surrounding area.
Mr Crothers said that he was optimistic over the future of Burra Foods.
“If we had a crystal ball, planning the future of the business would be simple, but the reality is our growth is not a straight line, but one with a lot of ups and downs along the way and our planning has to reflect this reality,” he said.
Mr Crothers said Burra would continue to invest in its plant to grow capability to meet market movements while curtailing the impact its operations has on its neighbours.