The tale of three wandering sheep has served as a lesson in tolerance, according to one Somerset councillor.
The tale of three wandering sheep has served as a lesson in tolerance, according to one Somerset councillor.

Pre-amalgamation law saves lives of escapee sheep

THE tale of three wandering sheep has come to a happy ending, thanks to a ruling made by the former Esk Shire Council.

The saga began when a complaint was made to Somerset Regional Council by a Minden property owner, about a neighbour's sheep wandering into their property, and the neighbours'.

Council officers investigated and discovered the sheep's owner did not have the appropriate permit for animal keeping on a property of that size, and would need to remove the sheep until a Material Change of Use application was submitted and approved.

But further investigation revealed the application was unnecessary.

The owner of the sheep was sold the land as a grazing property in 2002, when it was classed as a Rural A zone under the Esk Shire Planning Scheme.

Under the legislation, keeping an animal without council consent was allowed in Rural A zones prior to the Esk and Kilcoy shire councils amalgamation in 2008.

It means keeping the three sheep is considered an "existing lawful use of the premises" under the council's current policy.

As the property has now had its fence upgraded to a stockproof mesh to stop the woolly wanderers from getting out again, the sheep are free to go about their business.

"We talk a lot about tolerance - people who are used to the rural life get that," said Somerset councillor Sean Choat.

"But there are some people who move out here expecting city living, and they need to understand it's not just two-legged residents out here. They have to accept the furry and feathered creatures as well."

The property owner was also advised their legacy land usage only extended to keeping a maximum of three sheep on the property.