Legal advice has suggested farming infrastructure regardless of zoning should require approval.
Legal advice has suggested farming infrastructure regardless of zoning should require approval.

Legal advice on farm structures ringing alarm bells

COFFS Harbour City Councillor Dr Sally Townley says sections of the community will be disappointed that local government elections are being postponed.

Local government elections scheduled for September this year have been postponed until September 2021 due to coronavirus.

"Some will be disappointed because people enjoy having their democratic right of voting every four years, but when you look at what it was like in Queensland, with their elections held recently in the grip of coronavirus, the government has done the right thing.

"I was surprised it was postponed for 12 months but they did it to be on the safe side."

She had already declared her intention to run at the elections this year and the 12-month postponement hasn't changed that.

"I remain committed to serving the community and hope to be able to continue to do that."

Legal advice on farm structures sets alarm bells ringing

For years Dr Townley has been calling for reform and greater regulation of the region's intensive agriculture industry.

She recently sought legal advice which indicates many of the region's farm structures, including nets and plastic-covered greenhouses, regardless of zoning should require approval.

"That legal advice says they're structures, and therefore subject to the same DA rules as other farm buildings.

"It will be a massive body of work to go and look at all those structures and see which ones are compliant and which ones aren't, so I am eager to see how that goes.

"If you build a house that's not compliant and Council finds out they don't just say it's OK - there are a range of options from being asked to knock it down or make it compliant."

The advice has raised alarm bells for Cr Townley but she says it's yet to sink in for her fellow Councillors.

"They haven't yet grasped the significance of this and the position that it puts them in."

 

Coffs Harbour City Councillor Dr Sally Townley owns Hearthfire Bakery with her husband Dave.
Coffs Harbour City Councillor Dr Sally Townley owns Hearthfire Bakery with her husband Dave.

Dr Townley owns Hearthfire Bakery with her husband Dave Larson and like small business owners across the region, they're struggling to come to terms with the new Covid way of life.

The bakery is still operating from its shopfronts in Sawtell and Bellingen and also offers a home delivery service for those unable to visit in person.

"The community has been very supportive - Hearthfire has a very strong following.

"We are trying to do everything we can to keep our staff safe and in jobs."