Consultation sessions: Blueberries, E4 zones, MOs

Ready for a blueberry crop: Concerns are being raised about water resources, the use of chemicals and pesticides, town planning, the clearing of vegetation, the potential for pollution and the impact on threatened species.
Ready for a blueberry crop: Concerns are being raised about water resources, the use of chemicals and pesticides, town planning, the clearing of vegetation, the potential for pollution and the impact on threatened species.

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Some big ticket issues are on Bellingen Shire Council’s radar – so now is the time for locals to offer their thoughts and feedback. The three main areas council is reviewing include:

  • The regulation of blueberry growing in Bellingen Shire.
  • Whether council should continue to allow for Multiple Occupancy development (also known as MO’s, or Rural Landsharing Communities) in the rural areas of the Shire and whether existing MO’s should be allowed to subdivide by the use of Community Title Subdivision.
  • Potential changes to the E4 (Environmental Living) Zone, on Darkwood and Kalang Roads, to broaden the range of permissible uses in these areas. 

“Councillors, as part of processes to ease red tape, are discussing a range of potential amendments to existing planning policies governing rural land use,” a spokesperson said.

“The potential amendments under consideration relate to changes in legislation that require council to determine policy position on certain rural land uses in the Shire.”

Within the Shire there are only two areas classified as E4 zones – Darkwood Road and Kalang Road. 

As for the blueberries, this is an issue that’s been on many locals’ minds for some time.

Recently, Nambucca Shire and Coffs Harbour Shire councils voted down plans to require a development consent for blueberry farms.

This decision, in part, was due to the fact that introducing a DA for blueberry farms, could have implications for the entire ‘horticulture’ category.

“A DA would be required for all types of horticulture, including blueberries,” council’s Matt Fanning said. 

“Alternatively, council might consider that only blueberries should require development consent, leaving other forms of horticulture such as potato growing unaffected by any change.”

However, pulling blueberries out of the horticulture category would need NSW government intervention.  

“The council has sought guidance and leadership from the state government on how best to manage this issue, while minimising the impact on other horticulture activities,” he said.

“To assist the discussion council has prepared background papers, and a brief survey, that can be completed by interested parties.”

For more information on these issues see council’s website: create.bellingen.nsw.gov.au. Feedback will be accepted until May 12. 

Given the locally specific nature of the E4 (Environmental Living) Zones, council officers and staff will be available to meet with residents at Kalang and Thora halls. 

The council will also write to local residents in the area prior to these dates to ensure that residents are informed of the proposed consultation.

It is important that residents have their say early so that community views are incorporated in the process. 

Details of the consultation sessions are as follows:

  • Thora Hall: Wednesday, May 3, from 4-7pm
  • Kalang Hall: Thursday, May 4, from 4-7pm

For further details contact Daniel Bennett, council acting manager, land use services, on 6655 7300.