ANOTHER free-range piggery has lost a long-running right to farm case in Victoria.
After a planning battle lasting more than three years, Colin Pace and Marion McDonnell fell foul of intensive animal husbandry provisions of state planning law.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal this week upheld Benalla City Council’s decision to refuse a permit for their piggery.
The pair have run 200-400 pigs on their 28ha Bagadinnie farm for the past five years.
VCAT referred to the Happy Valley Free Range piggery case from last year where a new interpretation of planning laws was applied to again refuse a permit for the existing operation.
The 8.8ha Wandin North free-range piggery was found to be an intensive farm because it imported more than half of the animals’ nutritional requirements.
The Victorian Government has re-examined those laws with a series of recommendations designed to simplify right-to-farm laws being considered by Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford.
VCAT this week said the Benalla district piggery was located in the farm zone but had upset many neighbours, some of those on hobby farms, who had complained about smell and concerns over effluent in water run-off.
In its decision, VCAT members Michael Nelthorpe and Greg Sharpley said intensive agricultural practices needed to be “appropriately located and industry buffer distances and standards are met”.
They found buffer zones could not be adequately contained within the property, which meant it was not suitable for use as a piggery.
No permit is needed for using land for agriculture inside a farm zone but anyone found to be using land for intensive animal husbandry does.
Mr Pace and Mrs McDonnell were directed to apply for a permit which they did in 2013 and the Benalla’s council’s subsequent refusal saw the case taken to VCAT.
NORTHEAST VICTORIAN PIGGERY CAUSES FIGHT BETWEEN FARMERS
Echuca’s John Watson, who was killed in a farm accident in May, was forced to submit to planning permit stipulations under intensive animal husbandry provisions of state planning laws after new housing developments moved closer to his farm and residents complained about the smell and flies from the farm.
Like Mr Watson, Mr Pace had claimed the council was using an obscure planning regulation to satisfy the complaints of neighbours.
The Benalla council’s planning department issued Mr Pace with a letter in 2011 when it investigated his request to establish an organic piggery, saying he was safely within the farming zone and his business did not require a permit.
“This is a law that councils have found to get rid of farmers they don’t like,” Mr Pace has said.
VCAT said the piggery also “does not promote sustainable agriculture” and was subject to flooding during periods of high rainfall.