Bellingen Shire restricts the growth of blueberry farms
RESTRICTIONS placed on blueberry farms in the Bellingen Shire aim to seek a balance between environmental and agricultural needs, according to Mayor Dominic King.
This week the council voted for controls to be imposed on blueberry operations, specifying the need for new farmers to seek development approval before planting and setting up nets in the shire.
Cr King, the shire's first Greens Mayor, explained the motion was put before the council following significant consultation within the community, however Nationals Member of Oxley Melinda Pavey prior to the meeting called on the council not to hinder the growth of agriculture in the shire.
"The new regulations that apply to blueberry farming have been carefully designed using existing State government guidelines which outline optimum buffer zones to adjoining dwellings and watercourses in order to minimise both environmental damage and negative public health impacts," Cr King said.
"Council recognises the important contribution that agriculture makes to the local economy and has therefore endeavoured to keep these regulations simple and fair.
"The revised approach applies only to blueberries, because this type of farming is particularly intensive and can cause significant damage if not managed correctly."
Cr King said other tiers of government are reluctant to enforce legislation that govern blueberry farms.
"It is very important for individual communities to have their own discussions about what types of development they would like to see occurring within their Shires and this is exactly what Bellingen Shire Council set out to facilitate."
The council said there will be further opportunity for the community and industry to engage as the matter progresses through the planning process.
Planning proposal specifying that development consent is required to establish a blueberry farm in specified areas.
Blueberry farming is exempt development if it complies with following criteria.
- Blueberry plants & associated infrastructure (such as poles and netting) are located a minimum of 200m from any dwelling (not including a dwelling on the same property) and a minimum of 50m from any property boundary not held in the same ownership.
- Blueberry plants & associated infrastructure (such as poles and netting) are located the following minimum distances away from watercourses, based upon the Strahler method of stream ordering.