Smelly debate

By Olivia Duffey

Community members have attempted to halt a decision which would allow for a Conargo feedlot expansion, saying the existing facility already emits a ‘‘horrendous’’ odour.

Presentations were made to Edward River Council last week by neighbouring landholders.

In the general council meeting that followed, council agreed to give approval to the Australian Food and Agriculture project, which is located near the historic Boonoke station.

Donald Bull, whose home is 3.5km from the feedlot, said while neighbours are not opposed to the feedlot itself, he believes assurances that neighbours would not be negatively affected have not been fulfilled.

He said until those impacts could be limited or eliminated, the expansion would not be supported by neighbours.

‘‘In recent times the odour has become horrendous again and it is becoming unbearable,’’ he said.

‘‘In their original development application to initially build the feedlot, we were assured by the Australian Food and Agriculture company that we would not be impacted by the odours, so we all agreed to it.

‘‘However, that has not been the case and we are asking them to get the offensive odours under control because it is impacting our lifestyle and homes.’’

Mr Bull said some concessions have already been made, with the composting pad — which is believed to be the main odour making component — already relocated 9km from its original location.

But he maintains an expansion of the facility would only worsen the situation.

‘‘Now they are going to be running an extra 3000 head of cattle, which was approved when council passed the development application and is a big part of where the odour is coming from.’’

Construction of the feedlot, known as the Peppinella Feedlot, started in 2016 and the facility was officially opened in November 2017.

Stages one and two of the drought proofing project were built to accommodate 2500 cattle and 7500 sheep.

Mr Bull said he made his first complaint about the impact of the feedlot in mid-2018.

‘‘Council said it had nothing to do with them even though they approved the development application, and said I should ring the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority,’’ he said.

‘‘The odour is at its worst when we get a northerly wind, so by the time the EPA sends an officer from Wagga, Griffith or Albury, the wind changes and the odour goes away. So they haven’t been a great help.

‘‘I am a fourth generation farmer, have always lived on this property. think we are all feeling ignored and let down as this continues to be an issue for all of the neighbours, constantly impacting on our daily lives.’’

Mayor Norm Brennan said the relocation of the compost pad was temporarily approved, and that its permanent relocation was linked with the expansion proposal.

If council had rejected the expansion, he said the composting pad would return to the original site.

‘‘This would see the return of odours. It is currently 9km west of its original position and neighbouring landholders have told us they have noticed a reduction in the frequency of odours.

‘‘The permanent composting site will be double the size and is something Australian Food and Agriculture has voluntarily conducted after receiving complaints. The EPA has approved the site.’’

Fellow neighbouring landholder Rob Sobolewski said he would have liked council to defer the expansion part of the DA to ease the impact on neighbours.

‘‘Increasing the cattle numbers from 5000 to 8000 is a 60 per cent increase, so we are concerned that will become a 60 per cent increase in odour emissions,’’ he said.

‘‘In a six month period, there were 41 odour complaints to the EPA from seven different sources.

‘‘We wanted councillors to recommend the relocation of the compost pad and delay the increase of stock numbers for 12 months until the company could demonstrate an ability to eliminate the odour.

‘‘While the relocation of the compost pad was approved, so was the development application for the increase which I feel is a disappointing outcome.’’

The Pastoral Times contacted Australian Food and Agriculture for a response, but it has declined to comment.