Nambucca Environment Network continue blueberry opposition

Jo Foster, Erik Von Forell, Kate Tarrant and Raewyn Macky from the Nambucca Environment Network at last week’s meeting.

ON Tuesday night, the Nambucca Environment Network (NEN) held their third public meeting at the Macksville Ex-Services Club to discuss community concerns regarding industrial-style blueberry farming in the Valley.

The gathering of around 70 people was smaller than previous meetings.

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It was attended by State Member for Oxley Michael Kemp and Nambucca Valley Councillor David Jones.

The evening featured several speakers including Wendy Firefly (Robson) of Bellingen, Erik Von Forell and Raewyn Macky from the NEN.

Most discussion centred on the past and present approach to blueberry farming of the Nambucca Valley Council and their application of policy documents such as the Local Environment Plan (LEP) and the Development Control Plan (DCP).

Many in the group believe that Council has not done enough to protect landholders and the community at large from the introduction of large-scale blueberry farms and the land-clearing, chemicals and water use which such intensive farms require.

“Council continues to ignore the unintended consequences of allowing intensive plant agriculture ie. horticulture, as permissible without consent,” Erik Von Forell told the meeting.

“That might have been OK in 2010 but in 2017, with two years experience in blueberry farming, the information was clear,” Mr Von Forell said, referring to a vote of Nambucca Valley Councillors in 2017 to introduce buffer zones which was rescinded the next day.

Currently the group is awaiting the results of legal advice, applied for by Council several months ago, as to whether netting structures on blueberry farming operations can be considered a farm building and therefore require development approval in rural zones and if not, then what changes are needed to make it so.

According to a Nambucca Valley Council web page, the results of this legal enquiry requested by councillors last year will be presented to the Council meeting on 11 April, 2024.


Member for Oxley Michael Kemp and Nambucca Environment Network Director Raewyn Macky discuss intensive farming practices.

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