Council votes to amend LEP to limit intensive blueberry farming

Nambucca Environmental Network’s information tent at Macksville Show last weekend.

NAMBUCCA Valley Council unanimously resolved to pursue amendments to the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) limiting intensive horticultural developments in the area at last Thursday’s General Meeting held in Scotts Head.

A planning proposal will be forwarded to the Minister for Planning to amend the Nambucca Valley LEP 2010 to make intensive horticulture “permitted with consent” in RU1 and RU2 land-use zones.

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The amendments would also set the requirement that structures used in intensive horticulture in these zones be applied for under the Development Application (DA) process.

If the Minister determines that the matter should proceed, community consultation will be undertaken and a report prepared for council so that a final decision can be made.

Several speakers from the public made submissions at the meeting.

James Kellaway, CEO of OzGroup Co-op Ltd, spoke against the proposal on behalf of the Australian Blueberry Growers’ Association (ABGA).

“The ABGA has been given very little opportunity to comment on the proposal to require DAs in intensive horticulture,” Mr Kellaway told councillors.

“We see significant potential for unintended consequences as a result of these changes,” he said.

Mr Kellaway would like any changes made to these rules to be made in consultation with the ABGA.

When questioned by councillors on current requirements for members of the ABGA to include buffer zones, Mr Kellaway pointed out that the ABGA’s code of best practice is a voluntary one.

Kate Tarrant and Raewyn Macky from the Nambucca Environment Network (NEN) spoke for the recommendations.

“While the process to make your proposed DA changes takes time, up to eighteen months or more, we (NEN) fear it will mean more of the current damage to our water, soils and air quality while no regulations are in place,” Raewyn Macky told the Council.

“The Nambucca Environment Network requests that you put an immediate halt to all new development, especially buffer absent, unrestricted chemicals spraying and greenhouse construction until this legislation becomes legal,” she said.

After the meeting, a spokesperson for NEN described the Council’s decision as “a step forward”.

However, with a long process to make changes still ahead, the group was active the following day campaigning for public support in their fight against intensive blueberry farming, running an information tent at the Macksville Show over 12-13 April at the Macksville Showgrounds.


OzGroup’s packing shed and offices in Coffs Harbour.

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