Bellingen yet to implement blueberry regulations
COFFS Harbour City Council is not alone in its concern for the rapidly expanding blueberry industry and its potential impact on the environment.
Bellingen mayor Dominic King has expressed concerns about the burgeoning industry and the need for individual communities to have their own discussions about the issue.
In September last year Bellingen Shire Council voted in support of a planning proposal specifying that development consent is required to establish a blueberry farm in particular areas. Despite the vote, the new regulations failed to clear the appropriate state planning authority and council has appealed this.
"The appeal is currently with The Independent Planning Commission and I don't want to say anything that will jeopardise that," Cr Knight explained
In the lead up to the vote Oxley MP Melinda Pavey urged councillors to carefully consider the ramifications of increasing regulations on blueberry farms in the shire saying an established and proven legal and planning framework is already in place for managing rural lands.
"Governments do not always need to regulate and prescribe, in fact regulations should be the last resort. Codes of Practice and Community Charters can easily deliver good, balanced outcomes without imposing stifling, costly red-tape prescriptions that may also have unintended consequences."
Cr King was not convinced, saying other tiers of government are reluctant and not sufficiently resourced to enforce legislation that govern blueberry farms.
He says the restrictions aim to seek a balance between environmental and agricultural needs and use 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.
"The revised approach would apply only to blueberries, because this type of farming is particularly intensive and can cause significant damage if not managed correctly."