I WOULD like to congratulate the Nambucca Shire Council for bringing up the vexed issue of regulations for intensive agriculture. At the heart of this issue is the issue of planning.
In the past there appears to have been no impediment for large land owners to create subdivisions of small acreage blocks. Many people like small acreage lots for the lifestyle, so they can own a few animals and plant a small orchard. I know I do.
The problem comes when neighbours then choose to conduct an intensive activity, such as blueberry farming, next door to what is a residential area. Conflict arises due to issues of noise, water use and chemical use.
Regulation is required to prevent strife between neighbours. One method this can be achieved is by requiring buffer zones for designated activities. It is unreasonable to expect people to put up with chemical poison sprays next to their house tanks and veggie gardens. It is unreasonable to expect people to put up with a pig farm, or a noisy bottling plant, next to their house.
Another solution may be to exempt organically run activities from certain requirements. After all, if you are not spraying or using toxic chemicals then there is no danger of spray-drift or water table contamination.
The “right to farm” does not, and should not, imply a right to pollute and to destroy the amenity of others. The Coffs Coast has already been through a chemical war with the banana industry that is blamed for a spate of birth defects and has left a legacy of contaminated land. People are justified to fear a repeat of this with the blueberry industry.
Appropriate regulation is required and we need to have a broad discussion about this very important issue.
Dr Peter Sobey