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Residents want DAs for 'uncontrolled' blueberry farms

Residents are unhappy with expanding and 'unregulated' blueberry farms.
Residents are unhappy with expanding and 'unregulated' blueberry farms. Trevor Veale

COUNCILLOR Sally Townley and a number of Coffs Harbour residents will be sharing their concerns over so called 'uncontrolled' blueberry farming in the area and the need for farmers to have development applications at an upcoming council meeting.

The residents have come forward in regards to the proximity of blueberry plantations to their properties with concerns over issues such as spraying, erosion, the clearing of native vegetation and creeks running dry.

Angela Phillips-Gow spearheaded the movement following her experience living next door to a blueberry farm.

"As a neighbour of a blueberry farm I am very worried about the proximity of the berries to our house, there are only metres between my house and the berries," she said.

"I formed a group Citizens Unite Coffs Harbour... the group has 170 members through word of mouth in two weeks."

Councillor Townley will move that Council staff prepare a Planning Proposal to support an amendment of the Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan, which will mean intensive plant agriculture will only be permitted with consent.

Councillor Townley will also move that staff also make amendments to the Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan.

"In recent years, a rapid increase in intensive plant agriculture has seen a transformation to the rural landscape across Coffs Harbour LGA and surrounding areas," stated Councillor Townley in her rationale.

"There is no legislative or statutory framework in place to ensure best practices are maintained.

"A way forward is to require a Development Application process by which proposed intensive plant agriculture developments can be assessed against guidelines such as those developed by Department of Primary Industries and also against the goals as per Coffs Harbour's Strategic Plan."

The motion will be presented at the next Council Meeting Agenda on Thursday.



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