Severe drought forces council’s hand
ENDURING drought conditions are having a profound impact on landowners, forcing some to turn to unexpected measures to keep their businesses afloat.
A recent request submitted to Somerset Regional Council by a cattle grazier on Atkinsons Dam Rd has forced councillors to reconsider how their policies are applied during this time of crisis.
"The landowner has advised that as a result of the ongoing drought, they are being forced to feed their cattle," Director of Planning and Development Peter Tabulo said.
"They are hoping to formalise a feedlot on their property, to allow the cattle to be sold for a price that considers they have been grain fed."
Under the Somerset Region Planning Scheme, a project such as this requires a Material Change of Use Development Application to be filed, which can take time to establish, review, and approve.
Due to the strain imposed by the drought, the landowner requested special consideration from council to commence operation of the feedlot while the development application is still being processed.
"It's an example of landowners being pragmatic and sensible in this time of drought,"
Mr Tabulo said.
"Given the current drought situation, it is anticipated this situation is being experienced by a large number of farmers across the region."
He recommended council approve the landowner's request, allowing the feedlot to operate as long as a properly-made development application is lodged before January 31, 2020.
However, should the application be refused, the feedlot activities would have to stop as well.
Councillors approved the motion, agreeing it was important to be mindful of the needs of property owners during this trying time.
"I think it's in keeping with community sentiment," Cr Sean Choat said.