Council loosens conditions on Kybong pig, chook farm
GYMPIE Regional Council has removed or modified four conditions on the Kybong rotational free range pig and chicken farm, one month after the controversial development was approved.
Council staff recommended council should agree to the four changes the applicant requested.
One of the original conditions restricted animal numbers for the first year of operation, and any substantiated complaints from the community after that period would see the numbers restricted once again.
The applicant was happy to comply with intial restrictions, but requested the complaints clause that would see restrictions re-activate be removed.
Council staff advised that the condition would not hold up in the Planning and Environment Court, because the approval failed to provide a sure result to the business owner.
Councillor Glen Hartwig said it was important for council to be able to act on residents' complaints.
"I think the residents want certainty, too," Cr Hartwig said.
"They were there before this guy showed up.
"If we've got a substantiated complaint, we have to do something."
A council staff member said the applicant felt restricting numbers as a result of a complaint would be a knee-jerk reaction that would not necessarily solve the problem.
Councillor Daryl Dodt said the council could still act on complaints without mandating a restriction in the development approval.
"We don't need that clause to make a restriction," Cr Dodt said.
The second requested change to spark debate was on the council's condition that quarterly testing be carried out on the site to ensure the farm was not harming soil or water quality.
The applicant noted that the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DAF) only required yearly testing, and that the council could have access to the results of those tests rather than imposing its own.
Councillor Mark McDonald said that while the farm manager was happy to be scrutinised, the tests would cost the farm a significant amount of money and would show little to no change in the first year.
"I think it's grossly unfair for us to make him pay for those tests," Cr McDonald said.
Cr Dodt noted the council had to be fair with the development application, but also give nearby residents peace of mind.
"We're going to risk a community backlash," he said.
Councillor James Cochrane said if the DAF only required yearly testing, council had little cause to request more.
"I think they're the people with the science and the intelligence to say yearly is enough," Cr Cochrane said.
The council had no issue with removing the other two conditions, which would allow regular school excursions on the property and require no further application for the farm's compost heap, which would not involve any structure.
After casting an unsuccessful vote to pass the original council staff recommendations, the council agreed to remove the complaints clause and remove all restrictions on chicken numbers.
It also removed the quarterly testing requirements, but added that council would carry out it's own testing as a benchmark before farm operations began.
Councillors voted in favour of the modified motion unanimously.