The Bonville Public School P and C plan to establish a plant buffer to protect students from spray drift from nearby farms.
The Bonville Public School P and C plan to establish a plant buffer to protect students from spray drift from nearby farms. TREVOR VEALE

Parents to plant a buffer to protect students from spray

CONCERN about spray drift from adjoining farms has prompted one local public school to act.

The Bonville Public School Parents and Citizens Association is applying to Coffs Harbour City Council for funds to establish a vegetation buffer to protect students from sprays drifting across from nearby farms.

The application is for $15,510 under council's 2019/2020 Environmental Levy Grants Program.

It is one of several projects recommended for approval to be considered at Thursday evening's council meeting.

The application outlines the changing nature of the school's surroundings:

'Bonville Public School is a historic institution, located in the same rural and farmland setting for over 100 years. In recent times, there has been an increase in intensive agriculture on the neighbouring properties to the school.'

The current application will cover the planting of a buffer and understorey to protect students as well as the creation of landscaping and a bush tucker garden for educational purposes.

In March this year parents and students held a rally outside Sandy Beach Public School calling on the NSW Department of Education to test their school yard for chemical spray drift.

Protesters outside Sandy Beach Public School on March 13
Protesters outside Sandy Beach Public School on March 13 TREVOR VEALE

"We want experts here to do the testing and that's the point - there just hasn't been any testing done here. I don't think the Department of Education or the school are fulfilling their duty of care," Secretary of the United Residents Group of Emerald (URGE) and concerned parent Karla Gillies said at the time.

Stage two of the Bonville Public School project will involve negotiations with the farm on the opposite side of Glennifer Road to plant a vegetation buffer on their land.

Bonville Public School. next to blueberry farm. 24 JUNE 2019
Berry farms have been established very close to the Bonville Public School. TREVOR VEALE

Another project recommended for funding under the Environmental Levy Grants Program related to concerns over intensive agriculture, is a study into the effects of nitrates on macro invertebrates and river health.

The Nana Glen Landcare Group is requesting $25,000 to continue research conducted by the Southern Cross University:

'Intensive plant agriculture in the Bucca Bucca Creek catchment has resulted in excessive fertiliser entering the river systems.

'The health of any river depends on there not being a disruption in the food chain, and the excessive nitrates affect the macro invertebrate communities, which in turn affect the fish, reptiles, amphibians and the ecological balance of the river system,' their application states.

The Bonville Public School Parents and Citizens Association has been contacted for comment in relation to this story.