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Jul 18

Controversial broiler farm application to go to VCAT

Mount Alexander shire mayor, Michael Redden.THE company whose application for a broiler farm near Baringhup wasrejected by the Mount Alexander Shire council last weekis preparing to submit an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
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The company’s director, Michael Vukadinovic, said he would apply to VCAT by Monday next week at the latest.

The application comes in response to a long running tussle with Mount Alexander Shire to build three largesheds to breedchickens.

Leading up to last week’s council decision to accept or reject Mr Vukadinovic’s application, thecouncil received 903 objections from residents in the shire.

Mount Alexandermayor Michael Redden said the number of objections was unprecedented.

“We’ve never had the public rise up against an application in that way,” Mr Redden said.

Councillors went againstthe council’s planning department which produced anin-depth document recommending the broiler farmbe built.

Mr Redden listed a number of reasons why the council had rejected the application which included environmental impacts, visual amenity,increased truck traffic on local roads, odour and the effect on farms andtourism.

He said the increase in the number of large trucks on unsealed roads would be costly to the council in terms of road maintenance.

In the event of a flood in the area, he said the council believed water would wash contents of the broiler farms into the Loddon river.

Mr Redden said the council had been watching broiler farms in Moorlort in the Central Goldfields shire and were aware of complaints about odour.

He said people had told him the smell was so strong it was unbearable to stayoutside.

“If it goes to VCATwe expect quite a long and costly case,” Mr Reddensaid.

Mr Vukadinovic is critical of the Mount Alexandercouncil, saying it was motivated by a desire to “get voted in next time they go to an election”.

He said he could not understand how councillor’s could go against recommendations of their own planning experts.

“I just don’t know how they were able to reject it other than on political rounds,” Mr Vukavidovic said.

“It’s the most politicised shire I’ve every come across, where they just worry about what their people havegot to say and nothing else,” he said.

Mr Vukadinovic said residents were”naive” to thinkhis proposed broiler farms would be harmful to the environment.

“They don’t understand how well and cleanly these farms are run,” he said.

He said his farms would have”state-of-the-art” equipmentand meet regulations set by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Mr Vukadinovic said he was confidenthe could succeed in gaining approval for the broiler farms after going through the VCAT process.

“VCAT will lookat the pure planning considerations and not any of the emotional side effects to it,” he said.

He said the broiler farm would create 25 direct jobs and many more indirectly.

Baringhup resident Cathy McCallum has been active in protesting the broiler farms proposal near her town for about two years.

She said the area where the farms would be constructed was on the Moorlort Plains, home to rare flora and fauna.

“People have to be educated about the beauty about this type of environment,” Ms McCallum said.

She said Mount Alexander council was striving to be a sustainable and environmentally conscious shire.

“They don’t call themselves a green council but that’s what they’re working towards,” she said.

“All the residents in this shire have embraced that direction and they don’t want to see that industry in our area.

She said the Victorian Broiler code was “very flimsy” and favoured “entrepreneurial people”.

“Our council’s being extremely brave in saying no,” she said.

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