WATER TESTING: Councillors debated whether the revised conditions for the development application should be amended.
WATER TESTING: Councillors debated whether the revised conditions for the development application should be amended.

Mandatory water testing remains for poultry farm neighbours

HOMES within 1500m of a rural poultry farm have been assured water testing will be carried out to ensure expansion plans don’t impact rainwater quality.

Somerset councillors knocked back Ebborn Poultry Farm’s request to stop mandatory water testing, citing their past pledge to protect the farm’s neighbours.

In August, the Somerset Regional Council approved plans to intensify operations at the Mount Hallen operation, with the applicant since applying for some of the conditions to be amended or removed.

One of the issues was mandatory water testing at neighbouring properties and Councillor Robert Whalley voiced his objections to the removal of the condition.

“I remember we had a lot of people come in and complain about the chicken farm when it was first put in. We promised to protect them,” Cr Whalley said.

“It went to the Planning and Development Court and they protected them by putting this condition in.”

With only two water tanks within the specified radius, he argued it wouldn’t be onerous to carry out the tests.

The applicant’s comments noted there were many factors that could contribute to the condition of water quality, and it would be difficult to determine the source of these issues.

They asked for the condition to be altered so that testing would only need to be carried out in the wake of a written complaint.

Cr Sean Choat agreed with the developer’s reasoning.

“I’m someone who doesn’t like unnecessary green tape on small businesses,” he said.

“They already have a complaints system in place. We need to have faith they’ll do the right thing.”

Cr Dan Hall agreed with Cr Whalley, pointing out testing only after complaints would be useless without having a baseline first.

“We can’t see any changes if we don’t test,” he said.

“We owe it to our constituents to make sure our water is safe.”

Mayor Graeme Lehmann also voiced his agreement.

“If the court put it in, I think it should stay,” he said.

Councillors ultimately resolved to reinstate the original condition before proceeding with the approval.