Letters-to-the-Editor: Blueberries yay and nay

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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Possums and blueberries

I have been a resident of Valery since 1980, 37 years, and during that time we have always had a healthy population of brushtail possums.

I have left fruit out every night in a feeding dish and provided possum boxes in the trees for them, I have always had about a dozen different possums visit every night, one of the pleasures of rural living is to follow the breeding cycles of these lovely animals.

Now I am down to one lone young female and I believe the constant spraying of poisons from new and vast blueberry plantations close by must have something to do with the rapid decline within the possum population.

Besides the potential to decimate Pine Creek (which goes through Bongil Bongil National Park and ends up at Sawtell) with pesticides, these poisons must end up on the foliage of native trees which the possums feed on, the plantations are surrounded by State Forests which also contain koalas, pygmy possums etc. I think these species must also be affected.

The amount of spraying is unbelievable and mostly done on weekends when there is no monitoring by authorities.

I am opposed to this very alien type of agriculture which will, I feel, eventually change the whole nature of the north coast of NSW, my objections are based on environmental as well as aesthetic principles, however the very wealthy blueberry industry seems to own local politicians and Councils and does just what it wants to do.

Geoffrey Forbes, Valery

Why the hostility?

Why is it that suddenly ‘Intensive Horticulture’ is being charged with degradation of the land, loss of wildlife and damaged roads through illegal and poor practices?

Land degradation, loss of wildlife and damaged roads are all occurring on a daily basis in the towns of the Bellingen Shire. Land clearing to build houses, vehicles daring to drive on roads causing damage to pavement, and the loss of habitat for native animals that comes as a result of this urban sprawl is astounding. Yet those on rural properties are continually being maligned for producing food.

There is no proper process for monitoring and regulation of the use of pesticides and herbicides in household gardens and the home, and some of the chemicals on the shelves of the local hardware stores and supermarkets are just as dangerous as those used in intensive horticulture and on farms. More to the point is that farmers are required to keep records of chemical use but those using them in town gardens and homes have no such requirement and they are being used in a highly populated area. 

Then we can start a discussion on what people in the towns send into the rivers by way of their sewerage. Fats and oils down the sink, drugs passing through the body and into the sewerage system then into the river.  The number of prescription drugs being sold through our local pharmacies is huge. I don't believe the water going into the rivers from the sewerage treatment plants is tested for drug residues. Next on the list is cleaning products and so the list could go on ad infinitum.

Let's not forget the pipes used for "irrigation" in the towns either. How else will you get water into your house. And look about at the unsightly poles used to convey power. They are just as bad as the poles used to hold up the netting for the blueberries.

I am gobsmacked that a farmer should be hauled over the coals for daring to use his tractor at night using lights. Vehicles are using all roads at night using lights but no one ever complains. Do you complain every time your neighbour comes home at night in his car with the lights on?

So if council has the will to change their Local Government Environment Plan to make intensive horticulture a permissible occupation only with a DA then it must surely do likewise to all the homeowners and gardeners in the towns.

Maida Dall, Urunga

Rural Lands Policy

Councillors as part of processes to ease red tape are discussing a range of potential amendments to council’s existing planning policies governing rural land use. 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.

One area that Council is reviewing is the regulation of blueberry growing in Bellingen Shire.

To have your say go to council’s Create online portal