The $12m intensive piggery proposal planned for the property “Eulie” near Harden has been formally rejected by Hilltops Council.
Last night an extraordinary meeting of council refused the development application (DA) for the proposal put forward by Blantyre Farms, owned by Edwina and Michael Beveridge. Blantyre Farms already operate two successful piggeries near Young and other farming operations.
Mrs Beveridge was among 100 people at a fiery public forum in Harden on Tuesday in which people debated the pros and cons of the project. At the meeting, Mrs Beveridge accused the council of several failings in overseeing her application and not informing her of meetings on the proposal. She has indicated she may appeal to the NSW Land and Environment Court.
Hilltops general manager Anthony McMahon explained that while Council was bound by the outcomes of assessments undertaken by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), Council was still obligated to undertake a full planning assessment report.
“The EPA and the OEH both advised Council earlier this year that they would not provide General Terms of Approval (GTA) for the proposal,” Mr McMahon said.
“Council therefore had no choice but to refuse the DA, however Council was still required to undertake a full planning assessment report detailing the reasons for refusal, ensuring all stakeholders are clear on the circumstances surrounding the outcome.
“Far from being a waste of time, this week’s forum was a valuable part of the process, allowing members of the public the opportunity to present their views on the proposed development to the Council’s Administrator prior to the report on the proposed development being considered the following day.”
Mrs Beveridge has indicated she may also take her project for consideration by another shire. Another critical part of the project was to create electricity for the grid from a methane capture process, for which Mrs Beveridge has won high acclaim at other sites.
A vast majority of neighbours to Eulie opposed the piggery plan saying it jeopardised their water supplies and threatened Cunningham Creek, a major water resource that flows through to Canberra. One family said it would be forced to keep their disabled son indoors because the planned access route passed within 5m of their front door with several truck movements planned from the piggery each day.
Wiradjuri spokespeople said the piggery effluent which was to be spread on paddocks had the potential to destroy aboriginal scarred trees known to exist in the project area. Agronomists also questioned the ability of the soils to hold effluent and risked putting the soils and trees at risk. Two government departments said the piggery posed “unacceptable risks” for the site on which it it was proposed.