Decision lands council in court

THE region's share of a retail poultry industry worth nearly $4.5 billion a year nationally could be in jeopardy due to a court action against the Southern Downs Regional Council.

An application for a meat chicken growing operation at Elbow Valley east of Warwick, fattening nearly three million birds at a time, was approved in part by council in December, with council downgrading the operation from 48 sheds to 28.

Each shed would house 60,000 chickens at any time, with neighbouring property owners objecting on the grounds of odour, dust, vehicle movements and water contamination issues.

The applicant, the New South Wales-based Carr Farming Trust, has launched an appeal action against the council in the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland, in a bid to overturn what it says are excessively onerous conditions.

The appeal documents, lodged with the court late last month, state that the proposed application provides adequate environmental controls, with Carr Farming Trust spokesman Brad Carr describing the council approval as "over-conditioned".

Mr Carr said he was reluctant to say too much publicly pending the outcome of the appeal, but yesterday hinted that the downgraded version of the plan as approved by council could be financially unviable for the company.

"We just need to be able to operate and as it stands some of the conditions being imposed (by council) are somewhat excessive as we see it," Mr Carr said.

"There are conditions there on monitoring of odour and dust, for example, which we see an unnecessarily onerous."

Councillors were last year presented with a 183-page report from officers on the application by the Carr Farming Trust to establish their operation on a former Leitch Pastoral Group site of Condamine River Meats off Cullendore Rd.

The original plan was for 48 sheds on five concrete pads, with the Carr Farming Trust indicating the operation could alternatively be used for breeding meat chickens, which would involve 720,000 birds at a time.

Council assessed the plan as a broiler or meat chicken growing farm, which would be higher impact.

Broiler farms bring in day-old chicks from hatcheries and grow the meat chickens out over eight weeks before processing, with some birds taken out earlier to meet demand for smaller chickens.

More than 30 public objections were received, with the common themes being concerns about odour and noise, along with potential contamination of underground water supplies.

Council officers advised the plan could not comply with State Government odour regulations and that it could also have noise impacts on neighbours.

As a result, the planning department recommenced approval of 28 sheds only, with no less than 267 conditions covering environmental controls.

A date for a court hearing of the appeal is yet to be determined.

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