WOOREEN residents, especially those living near the proposed 400,000-chicken broiler farm off Yarragon-Leongatha Road, aren’t happy.
That was very clear from the views expressed by many of them at last week’s South Gippsland Shire Council public presentation session.
But as passionately fearful as they were of the anticipated impact on their lifestyle and amenity of a chicken production enterprise being established nearby, it must be said that Jack Kraan, the consultant representing the applicant Chris Freney, himself a highly experienced chicken meat producer, convincingly batted away most, if not all of their concerns.
In fact it was particularly edifying to hear both sides of the debate presented, in the same forum last Wednesday, prior to a decision being taken by council on the application at its meeting next Wednesday.
And the residents should be commended for the respectful in which they received the verbal submission by the proponents.
It’s not to say they went away convinced. In fact we know that they didn’t because several of them continued to lobby councillors and the media afterwards and have since posted information online and written letters to the editor.
They don’t want it in their backyard.
The applicant says he selected exactly that piece of land in the Farming zone because it is an entirely suitable location. And never the twain shall meet.
It will be one of those tough decisions for council – damned if you do and damned if you don’t
Mr Kraan, who says he has shepherded many such applications right through government and council processes, including a similar operation at Stony Creek, presented a compelling argument to the people who will make the decision, the councillors, on the face of it, leaving them with little grounds for refusing the application.
He started his submission by saying that the Farming zoned land was specifically set aside to provide for agriculture, not for residential living or any other purposes. It was to ensure that other uses did not interfere with agriculture including housing and tourist operations.
This was a direct reference to submissions by objectors earlier that the chicken production would impact their residential lifestyles and BnB operations. “Who wants to go to a wellness retreat that stinks,” said one of the objectors who also presented to council last week.
Mr Kraan said the proposal satisfied and exceeded all aspects of the Broiler Code and he rejected claims made by the objectors that the site could house more than the allowable 400,000 chickens.
“RSCPA accreditation requires that they inspect the premises twice a year so there can be no more than 398,000 birds under RSPCA regulations,” he said. He also rejected claims that creeks in the area were at risk from contamination.
He said the design of the sheds completely eliminated the possibility of polluted water or effluent escaping from the sheds or the site.
“All stormwater is collected and put into a new dam which will be recycled for drinking and cooling.” He said the chicks were mature in 54 days and there would be 5.6 batches of birds, in and out of the site each year.
He also said that noise, odour and dust would not be an issue as a result of new and improved methods for modern chicken meat production processes. Several objected to the amount of truck movements along Yarragon-Leongatha Road.
Local resident Jill Forrester, owner of a nearby 170 acre farm said the development would “destroy the amenity and tranquillity” of the area.
“It’s not only our livelihood that’s at stake but our superannuation,” she said.
Cathy Goller said her house was downhill and downwind from the development, just 686 metres away. “I didn’t come to live over the road from an unsuitable poultry operation,” she said.
‘Toxic’ dust, odour, noise and environmental contamination were her main concerns.
Organic farm operators next door, Chris and Frank Griggs, said they had been producing certified beef from the area for 21 years and faced the prospect of having to pack up and leave.
Another resident Richard Nankin alleged trucks would access the property on a regular basis from 3am to 7am with up to 20 B-double movements a day. “The road network can’t handle it,” he said.
Broiler farm fears unfounded says applicant