The South Gippsland Shire has proposed local law amendments that seriously erode the rights and safety of people living on rural land.
Under proposed amendments, land zoned as Rural Living, Rural Activity and Rural Conservation will no longer have the right to own agricultural animals, such as sheep, goats, horses, etc. This is despite these properties being zoned for rural use under the Victorian Planning Scheme.
For some, the choice to own such animals is personal and represents a connection to rural life and sustainable living. For others, the reason to own livestock is for business purposes.
This is not the time to impact further when farming and rural communities are already suffering.
The uncertainty and cost involved in applying for permits to continue to have animals on rural properties will be crippling.
Furthermore, the shire aims to stop rural landholders from being able to manage vegetation appropriately by conducting burn-offs where necessary on larger properties, many with heavy vegetation, that would otherwise pose high bushfire risk.
It is impractical to put all green waste from larger properties in green waste bins or take it to the tip.
The green waste amnesty only runs for about eight weeks a year and the tips are already pushed to the brink with green waste during that time.
The cost outside the amnesty period and time involved in taking large amounts to the tip are too great. Composting can be done, but is not possible for all green waste. This means a lot more dead vegetation waiting for a bushfire, creating an issue for everyone, not just rural landholders.
The shire’s justification for the proposed amendments are that local laws staff and some members of the public find the laws confusing. Education is the key, not more laws. Staff should be appropriately trained, and landholders could be given information with rates notices to let them know what they can or cannot do on their land.
These crazy amendments can be stopped. I urge all residents to make a submission by January 10, 2020, and explain why these laws are unacceptable. A summary of the amendments can be found at https://oursay.org/southgippsland/locallaw.
Submissions can be made online. Alternatively, hardcopies of the amendments and submission forms can be found at the shire office or at “pop-up” locations in local communities.
We need to preserve the rights and safety of our rural communities.
Jasmin Burton, Mirboo North.