THE controversial development of two free range chicken broiler farms near Toongabbie has been approved by Wellington Shire Council.
Conditions put in place to address community concerns has resulted in the total number of chickens permitted reduced from 800,000 to 720,000.
Council’s planning department has decided to grant two notices of decision to grant planning permits, which include a series of stringent conditions regarding environmental and operational matters, for the development of the two farms.
Council officers reviewed and considered all issues raised, such as odour, heavy traffic and environmental effects. They found both applications were fully compliant with the state government’s Code for Broiler Farms and have been supported by agencies including the Environment Protection Authority.
The land in question is in a farming zone, one of the few where broiler farms are permitted.
To address community concerns, additional conditions have been included within the permits.
Among the conditions the applicant must meet include funding and constructing upgrades to the intersection of Traralgon-Maffra and Sale-Toongabbie Rds, moving some of the sheds within the property boundary to increase the separation distance from surrounding dwellings, complying with an environmental management plan on an ongoing basis and reducing the capacity of the second farm from 400,000 to 320,000 birds.
The applicant and objectors have the right to have the decisions independently reviewed at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Objectors have 21 days to lodge an appeal; the applicant has 60.
Splitting the application into two farms avoided the requirement for an odour environmental risk assessment.
Council land use planning manager Josh Clydesdale said the permit conditions placed strict obligations on the applicant.
“A number of conditions consider the general amenity of the farms and the surrounding area,” he said.
“These include the need to comply with an environmental management plan on an ongoing basis, which must also be reviewed and audited by accredited professionals on a regular basis.
“We have sought to strike the right balance for the proposed farms.
“Given that the permit applications fulfil all relevant planning requirements, but recognising the community angst with this matter, we have included rigorous conditions, in order to seek the most appropriate outcome.”
Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley said council’s delegations supported decisions of this nature being made by staff.
“Wellington Shire is fortunate to have one of the best proven planning teams in the state,” she said.
“Council is confident in its decision that these applications have been dealt with by planning experts,” Cr Crossley said.
“My fellow councillors and I have been present throughout this process: attending community meetings, receiving frequent briefings and remaining abreast of the issues regarding these two planning applications.
“Ultimately, these permit applications are for two farms, to be located within the farming zone and have fulfilled all of the relevant criteria according to the Victorian Code for Broiler Farms.
“We are confident in the additional conditions the officers have placed within the two permits, in order to address a range of matters raised by submitters.
“In decisions such as these, we are fully aware that no matter what the outcome, we cannot satisfy all parties, however it is clear that our planning team have worked hard to try and find some sort of common ground.”