Local laws rev up ratepayers

South Gippsland Shire local law proposals make motorbikes a big deal

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A slew of local law proposals from South Gippsland Shire Council would see radical new rules surrounding the use of motorbikes on farming land, the keeping of most animals on rural lifestyle properties and even camping on private land.

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UNCERTAIN: Shane and Adrian Harris, Dumbalk North, are unsure what the changes will mean for their beef farm. Photo by Bryce Eishold.

UNCERTAIN: Shane and Adrian Harris, Dumbalk North, are unsure what the changes will mean for their beef farm. Photo by Bryce Eishold.

A slew of local law proposals would see radical new rules surrounding the use of motorbikes on farming land, the keeping of most animals on rural lifestyle properties and even camping on private land.

The South Gippsland Shire Council, whose councillors were infamously sacked this year, has faced uproar from locals concerned about the proposed amendments.

South Gippsland Shire Council regulatory services manager Luke Mullen said local laws had not been reviewed for some years despite community changes.

"The population is growing and then the townships are moving out so it's important that we get our local law to reflect that," Mr Mullen said.

"We based it on what we think is important to the community.

"We've had a spike in complaints about recreational vehicles, your motorcycles, in and around the shire so then we put together amendments based on that."

Acknowledging that such complaints might be "a minority view", Mr Mullen encouraged ratepayers to have their say before submissions close on January 10.

"The problem areas are usually around where the township goes into your lifestyle properties and then goes into farming - it's in that belt in the middle before farming," he said.

"So we've made some slight amendments to what animals can be kept in what zones just to keep up with the towns growing and not having 20 or 30 horses in the middle of a small town, that they're kept just on the edge out into the the farming area."

Those amendments would mean annual permits would be required to keep any cattle, horses, sheep, pigs or goats on properties outside the farming zone, primarily affecting lifestyle properties in the the rural activity and living zones.

Dog numbers would be restricted to a maximum of two outside the farming zone or four inside the farming zone.

The Shire would also bring in radical new rules regarding the use of motorbikes, banning their recreational use on any land outside the farming zone.

Even within the farming zone, recreational riding would be banned within 500 metres of General Residential Zoned land, or on farm land on Sundays or outside 7am - 6pm weekdays and 9am - 5pm Saturdays.

"We didn't want to impact the farmers on their quad bikes at all and we've already received a fair bit of feedback that it could be read, and people are reading it, that we're trying to restrict farmers in the way they farm," Mr Mullen said.

"That's where this consultation period really comes into its own, we need to hear from the community and what they think about that."

One of those uncertain about the changes is Dumbalk North beef producer Adrian Harris, who left a South Gippsland Shire Council meeting on Tuesday night a little confused.

"I went to the meeting last night and the shire explained a lot there but we need a lot more clarification, especially about the dogs we can keep," Mr Harris said.

Mr Harris' son, Shane, said the problem stemmed from changing demographics.

"A percentage of all these little blocks are going to Melbourne people and they're trying to force their view onto us," Shane said.

"I had someone complain my cows were mooing.

"The shire's trying to cater to them.

"It's absolutely crazy.

"They just constantly want to put more costs onto farmers or more restrictions."

Stony Creek dairy farmer Peter Hanrahan said the shire needed to be careful not to set precedents that might make farming unworkable in the future.

"This is the start but where does it end? That is the problem," he said.

"If this is allowed to get through, what is the next one? So a farmer who adjoins you can't harvest at certain times, you can't have milk tankers out at night, what next?"

Former South Gippsland Shire councillor Meg Edwards said community attitudes had to change.

"When we had an issue with a neighbour or wanted to get something done in your local community years ago, you got together and you talked," she said.

"Now people say, 'I've got an issue with my neighbour, I'll ring the council because they'll sort it out as a third party'.

"It's actually creating barriers."

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