Chooks farms 'threaten Casiono's growth'

A win for two chook farmers in their Land and Environment Court last month is a blow to Richmond Valley Council, which not only lost $60,000 in legal costs fighting them, but fears the farms will impact on Casinos future residential growth.

The two developments will boost the areas chicken population by almost half a million.

Council is expecting to cater for almost 10,000 new homes in the Richmond Valley over the next 20 years, and Councils director of environmental services, Ken Exley, says land needs to be protected for future housing needs.

He said Council opposed the farms because of concerns that odour, dust and noise would have far reaching impacts on the amenity of surrounding land, making it unusable for future residential development. Mr Exley said fears about the risk to public health from avian flu and other bird diseases were also taken into account when Council refused the two developments.

Unfortunately other poultry farms have been approved in the past and the cumulative effects of these... will have an impact on the rural residential area and the potential growth yields when we want to develop that land, Mr Exley said.

The Casino area is already home to 3.3 million chooks at any one time across the areas existing 14 poultry farms and the court decision boosts that tally to almost four million. The two new farms are each approved to carry 240,000 birds in six sheds.

The adjoining farms at Shannonbrook are owned by the Carr family and Casino solicitor Frank Hannigan.

Mr Exley said he was also disappointed that Council was not given the chance to consult with the farm owners before they lodged their development applications (DAs), which arrived within one hour of each other.

If Council and the owners had engaged in pre-lodgement consultation, we couldve raised all the contentious issues with them and maybe had a better result... many of the issues are basically the same and we could have looked at both at the same time and not in isolation, he said.

Mr Hannigan did not want to comment about the court case but said it was a sheer coincidence that the DAs turned up around the same time.

Mr Exley said concerns over the expansion of such farms had prompted Council to consider developing a master plan to avoid conflict between rural residents and farms as well as give more certainty to rural residential planning.

The plan, he said, would identify future land lots, roads and infrastructure and where they should be located in relation to the impact footprint of the poultry farms, which Mr Exley said normally extended outside the land on which the farms operated.

The success of the appeals was welcomed by Andrew Young, the general manager of Byron Bay based Sunnybrand Chickens, which processes millions of birds a year from the regions 14 poultry farms.

Were very happy with the outcome Council had concerns about their strategic planning but weve got a need for chicken sheds, Mr Young said. Our industry continues to grow and we need to house the birds.

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