FIGHTING PROPOSAL: Kevin Barber (at right) is one of the residents opposing the blueberry farm.
FIGHTING PROPOSAL: Kevin Barber (at right) is one of the residents opposing the blueberry farm. Trevor Veale

Boambee's blueberry battle is back on

FOR the second time, a group of Boambee residents are banding together to fight a proposed blueberry farm in their neighbourhood.

In May residents were informed of the proposal for the farm to be established between the Pacific Highway and Lindsays Rd on land zoned R5 Large Lot Residential.

It would be a first for the region to have such a venture in a residential zone, and as such requires a development application to Coffs Harbour City Council.

With a list of concerns including the potential impact of spray drift on neighbours' tank water and on the nearby public school, residents launched a petition which soon had close to 1000 signatures.

Water use and the visual impact of netting are other common concerns.

Although some claimed they had just one day to respond to the initial notification, the council received several submissions from the public and the applicant was asked to provide further information.

The applicant has since submitted extra documents including a preliminary Environmental Assessment where a number of concerns were addressed but residents including Kevin Barber remain vehemently opposed to the farm.

He is worried about the harmful effects of chemical spray drift not only on his water supply but on the Boambee Public School.

Coffs Harbour City Councillor Dr Sally Townley has echoed these concerns, pointing out that on one side of a fence farmers will be suited up in protective gear while nearby you will have children playing.

In an attempt to allay these fears the applicant has pointed out that spraying only occurs once every three or four weeks and that a fine spray is directed to the leaf area to minimise waste and drift.

A number of mitigation measures including monitoring the weather and avoiding spraying in windy weather or during hot conditions to minimise spray drift will also be utilised on the farm.

Bonville Residents not keen about blueberry farm DA. 04  Sept 2018
The land proposed for the blueberry farm is former diary land. Trevor Veale

In relation to increased noise levels, it comes as little comfort that the applicant has pointed out: 'given the proximity of the site to the Pacific Highway, residences already experience higher background noise, including night time and early morning'.

Despite the applicant claiming 'the proposed horticultural activity will not generate significant additional traffic movements' it remains a major concern for residents particularly when school traffic is added to the mix.

Currently access to the proposed farm is off the Pacific Highway and there is a construction certificate being prepared for an access point off Lindsays Road.

The current proposal can be viewed at council's customer service centre during ordinary office hours from now until September 12 or on council's online DA application tracker (using the no 0797/18DA) and people are welcome to make written submissions.

A decision on whether or not the application goes to a full council for resolution will be determined once all the submissions have been received after this current consultation.