Worse off than ever

Christine Pruneau, secretary, Macedon Ranges Residents Association

In response to Noel Henderson’s letter (‘Positive approach’, Opinions, July 31) defending the state government’s changes to increase intensive (pig and poultry) farming in Macedon Ranges.
No-one disagrees with protecting the right to farm in a Farming zone, but these changes relate to a completely different situation.
Contrary to Mr Henderson’s claim, there has not been local policy ‘for decades’ that supports intensive farming in Rural Conservation and Rural Living zones because until these changes, that activity has been prohibited in those zones.
The state government is removing those prohibitions and introducing new rights for intensive animal farming interests in Rural Conservation and Rural Living zones, while taking away everyone else’s rights to even know about or object to thousands of chickens and pigs moving in next door. That’s a first, which expands the area where intensive farming is allowed from 48 per cent of the shire (the Farming zone) to 85 per cent – adjacent to towns, in rural residential areas and in the shire’s most environmentally sensitive places, including drinking water catchments.
Mr Henderson, chair of the Macedon Ranges Agribusiness Forum, welcomes these changes – and the majority’s loss of rights – on behalf of the minority interests he represents.
These changes directly conflict with Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, the Macedon Ranges policy since 1975, which gives priority to protection of catchments, environment and the community’s right to be consulted.
It’s the policy the state government said it would use to protect Macedon Ranges, but instead Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas supports intensive farming changes, which leave Macedon Ranges – environment and residents – not protected but worse off than ever before.
Not happy? Tough luck. The state government intends to put these changes into the Macedon Ranges planning scheme in September.

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