Major rifle range approvals ruffle feathers
TWO major rifle ranges at the Cherrabah Resort in Elbow Valley have just received the green light in a unanimous show of approval from Southern Downs councillors, despite eight submissions from neighbouring properties.
A long rifle range and handgun range will be developed on the resort, alongside a clay shooting and small bore range.
Two separate applications for the ranges were submitted by different organisations, but will be constructed in close proximity to one another on the Cherrabah property.
One of the applicants, Cherrabah Sporting Clays Incorporated today received $35,000 in grant funding under the Gambling Community Benefit Fund, which is expected to go towards the new range.
The news may be good for shooting enthusiasts but the approvals have triggered strong concerns about the noise and environmental impact on residents and wildlife.
Stuart Bell runs an eco-tourism camping enterprise on a property approximately seven kilometres from Cherrabah resort, and is launching a massive campaign against the development over concerns for the noise and environmental disturbance the shooting ranges will cause.
Mr Bell said previous shooting events that took place under a temporary events permit had caused campers on his property to pack up and leave due to the noise disturbance, and fears the shooting ranges will destroy his business.
"We generate a lot of business to the local community for the Southern Downs," he said.
"People stay for long periods of time and we are very focussed to value adding to the local community."
Another neighbour to the Cherrabah Resort, who wished to remain anonymous said the loud, relentless sound of gun shots during shooting events was a disturbance to the peace and tranquillity of the region.
Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said the council was aware of concerns about noise and environmental impact, but felt the benefit to the community in boosting economy was such a positive for the region.
"All the councillors looked at all those submissions but at the end of the day the councillors made a unanimous decision to approve the application," Cr Dobie said.
"All the councillors have been out there, we know about the noise, and the shooting has been going on there for quite a long time now."
Cr Dobie said she was confident the restrictions placed on the shooting ranges as part of the approval would address the concerns raised in submissions opposing the development.
"Council has imposed some very tight restrictions in regard to how often they can short and how many people can shoot at any one time."
The two shooting ranges will not be allowed to operate simultaneously and the number of shooting stands in the long run rifle and handgun range has been limited to two.
The clay target and small bore range is only intended to operate one weekend per month between the hours of 8am and 6pm and host two annual events each year.
The long rifle and handgun range will be available for use by Cherrabah Resort patrons but will be limited to five days per week between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
"It may be pretty disruptive but I don't believe the noise is as loud as people might think," Cr Dobie said.
But Mr Bell said he was worried the developments were not in keeping with the tourism ethos of the region.
"To turn out shire into an American-Texas style shooting precinct... it doesn't smack of anything our tourism industry wants to see," he said.
"We shouldn't have to live with that. I don't want our lives to be destroyed by other people making money."
Mr Bell also had serious concerns about the impact on local wildlife in particular the endangered spotted quoll.
"I've decided to be the voice for those quolls at all levels of government and all levels of media," he said.
The owners of Cherrabah Resort were unavailable for comment on the developments.