Spotlight on rural land


Spotlight on rural land

Land: consultants Shelly McGuinness (left) and Steph Drum (right) with Bass Coast Shire Council engagement facilitator planning Jeff Nottle and strategic planning coordinator Shannon Davies at a discussion on council’s Rural Land Use Strategy.

IS there a future for agriculture in Bass Coast Shire?

What will that look like and how can the council manage it?

Those questions will be answered by the council’s Rural Land Use Strategy, out in draft form at the end of this month.

It follows three years of work including a background paper and two public consultations with the 120 people who have registered their interest.

Consultants RMCG will exhibit the draft between April 29 and May 24. There will be 11 opportunities for people to find out more and ask questions ahead of lodging submissions.

Councillors are due to decide on the draft strategy at their June meeting. The document will then become council policy.

Consultants are finalising the draft by meeting with farmers, council staff and councillors, GippsDairy, Gippsland Natural, the Victorian Farmers Federation, horticulturalists and similar. Westernport Water, Southern Rural Water and Phillip Island Nature Parks will also be consulted.

Their task is to balance the considerable development pressures in Bass Coast and changing agricultural practices with tourism, rural industry, landscape protection and environment management.

Council’s strategic planning coordinator Shannon Davies said climate change also plays a major role in developing the strategy which will plug the gap “around analysis of what you can do on the land”.

But it’s not about rural land rates. That’s a separate issue.

She doesn’t think there will be any surprises although did add, “Planning doesn’t make people happy all the time. It can be quite controversial.”

In light of recent anger in the San Remo community that public (and previous council) views were ignored in the development of the draft San Remo Access Strategy, Ms Davies stressed the involvement of the community was really important.

She said there is always tension in a tourist/farming area between development and farmers wanting the right to farm.

Ms Davies said the strategy won’t allow the shire to prohibit what the planning scheme allows, but will identify areas that are suitable for intensive agriculture such as a chook farm.

The strategy will also be useful in helping the council advocate to government, for example, for natural gas for intensive agricultural industry. In September 2008, the then councillors adopted a Bass Coast Vision 2030 which included being a food bowl for Victoria.

Ms Davies said this was being taken into account “but we need to understand what sort of food bowl we are”.

Her belief is there is a future for innovation and in encouraging agriculture to be productive in different ways such as the flower farm, snow pea and hydroponic herb industries that already exist in the shire.

Ms Davies was addressing a briefing of the local press at Wonthaggi last Wednesday, also attended by Shelley McGuinness and Steph Drum of RMCG.

Ms McGuinness explained the draft will look at the state of agriculture in Bass Coast, the natural assets that need protecting and hazards such as land slips. It will also protect the opportunity for agriculture, the rural landscape, environment and rural based tourism as well as the liveability of the shire’s rural areas.

Ms McGuinness said she’d encourage submissions, suggesting submitters should state why they hold their stated views.

Draft strategy meetings start on Tuesday, April 30 in Inverloch. Register with 1300 226 278 or email [email protected]


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Posted by on Apr 16 2013. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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