WHILE his critics were many, there was no doubt people thought Raleigh Dairy Holdings general manager Stuart Brander was pretty brave to front at Monday night’s public information session about his proposed dairy upgrade.
More than 120 people crammed into the tiny Raleigh Hall to hear Mr Brander and a long list of others speak about the development.
The concerns raised were many.
Neighbour Bruce Champion said they had already suffered night-time slashing, aerial spraying and watched waterbirds disappear after a wetland was drained, exposing acid sulphate soils.
“New Zealand’s volcanic soils are nothing like the depleted fragile Australian soils,” Mr Champion said.
Spokesman for community alliance ‘No Feedpad on the Floodplain’, Joe Pearce, said every blade of grass would be pushed to the limit with the development.
“The international landscape is littered with failed New Zealand dairy projects,” Mr Pearce said.
He was also critical of the proposed feedpads for feeding cattle during floodtime.
“There is no way you can stack 1500 cows on a hill without something going wrong.”
Ecologist and Coffs Harbour councillor Mark Graham said it was the increase of nutrient levels both in the soil and potentially into the river that bothered him.
“There is nothing in the plan to contain the nutrients in the cattle laneways,” Mr Graham said.
“The wetlands are the kidneys of the river, if they suffer, the river suffers – it is already under stress.”
Environmental engineer Nic Denshire said no modelling had been done regarding the frequency with which effluent ponds might overflow.
“There is also no on-going monitoring of the system, which would be good practice.”
Other concerns included the smell from such an intense dairy, the drop in property values, the impacts on tourism and the oyster industry, and the effect on downstream properties during floods.
“Will the effluent land in my backyard?” Brian Hamil asked.
In response to questions about a previous aerial spraying incident, Mr Brander said it would never happen again.
He finished by inviting people to contact him directly to talk about their concerns.
“We have the best consultants and the best advice – we are not here to destroy the river.”