A buffer will be planted at Bonville Primary School to protect students from spray drift.
A buffer will be planted at Bonville Primary School to protect students from spray drift. TREVOR VEALE

Council to fund buffer to protect children from spray drift

COUNCIL funds have been approved to allow a local school to plant a buffer to protect students from spray drift from neighbouring farms.

The Bonville Public School P&C was successful in their application to Coffs Harbour City Council for $15,510.

Stage two of the project will involve negotiations with the farm on the opposite side of Gleniffer Rd to plant a vegetation buffer on their land.

It's not the first time a local primary school has expressed concern about spray drift with Sandy Beach Public School calling on the NSW Department of Education to conduct testing on school grounds to get a clearer idea of how much spray from neighbouring farms ends up on school grounds.

 

blueberry chemicals protest outside Sandy Beach School. 13  MAR  2018
The Sandy Beach Public School protest in March this year. TREVOR VEALE

The Advocate contacted the NSW Department of Education in relation to these two cases and received the following response:

"Apart from these two cases, no other spray drift concerns have been reported from the area to the Department.

"Bonville Public School welcomes any work by the P&C to improve the amenity of the school, but questions about any particular P&C projects should be directed to the P&C," a Department of Education spokesperson said.

The Advocate has been unable to contact the Bonville P&C.

 

Bonville Public School. next to blueberry farm. 24 JUNE 2019
Bonville Public School. next to blueberry farm. 24 JUNE 2019 TREVOR VEALE

Other projects funded under the Environmental Levy program include $23,000 for the Nana Glen Landcare Group to continue research started (and funded under the same program) by the Southern Cross University (SCU) into the impacts of excessive fertiliser entering the Bucca Bucca Creek catchment.

The Advocate understands Professor Isaac Santos, who was leading much of the research into the impacts of intensive agriculture on our waterways, has left the country, but SCU is yet to confirm or deny this.

Professor Santos was behind a study that found highly elevated levels of nutrients flowing into Hearne's Lake with water samples showing levels of nitrogen oxides over one hundred times the national guideline.

 

Professor Isaac Santos of Southern Cross University National  Marine Science centre  with a water carbon content measuring system.. 03 NOV 2016
Professor Isaac Santos of Southern Cross University National Marine Science centre with a water carbon content measuring system.. 03 NOV 2016 Trevor Veale

Jetty Dunecare also did well from the recent round of Environmental Levy funding with two successful applications each receiving $25,000.

One project will look at combating the weed Glory Lily behind Boambee Beach with another looking at improving the biodiversity of the 18 hectares of native vegetation along the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores.

The council introduced the Environmental Levy (EL) as a means of encouraging local residents and organisations to undertake environmental management and improvement works.

The levy currently raises around $1.3 million a year at an average cost of $44 per ratepayer, of which approximately $300,000 is available to community groups.

This time around, council received 21 submissions and 19 were considered eligible for funding. The total to be given in grants is $339,236 while the balance of $467 will be saved for further funding in the next financial year.

"Once again I'm delighted to see a wide range of projects being financed that clearly mean a lot to the groups involved," Coffs Harbour Mayor Councillor Denise Knight said.

"The Environmental Levy was designed to help locals who are passionate about improving their immediate neighbourhood or care about a special spot that needed some TLC - and it's great to see it working so well."