Piggery plan concerns

NEIGHBOURS of a proposed piggery at "Moorex" near Naracoorte are worried that Morambro Creek, and the connecting Cockatoo Lake, could become contaminated.

Happy Pig Australia has been operating at Goroke for the past six years; however, due to an expiring lease, plans are underway to move it to a property just off Gap Rd at Keppoch.

Naracoorte Lucindale Council discussed the application at a Development Assessment Panel last Thursday.

It chose to allow the matter to "lay on the table" until further information from the Environment Protection Authority on issues such as clarification of the apparent watercourse, potential contamination issues for Morambro Creek and Cockatoo Lake and the soil type and its suitability for a free range piggery.

Ricky Moore, Briony Moore, Ione Saint and Sue Willis (via a submission) all put their views before the panel as representatives not in favour of the proposal.

The piggery is proposed to be set up in four separate areas with 500 sows, 80 gilts and their progeny.

To meet the free range organic piggery standards, sows would not be run at more than eight to the acre, and it is intended the grower paddocks would be occupied for 17 weeks a year and spelled for 35 weeks.

Mr Moore owns the property closest to two of the proposed areas for the piggery and his daughter Briony lives in the house on the property with her partner Tim Sabey.

Mr Moore said they had a number of concerns in regards to odour, soil erosion, the access track not being able to handle semi-trailer trucks coming in and out each week, dust, noise and waste management.

Their number one worry, however, was damage that could be caused to the environment.

"Our main concern is that 'Area 1' and 'Area 2' are located on a watercourse," Mr Moore said.

"We're concerned for Morambro Creek, which goes into Cockatoo Lake."

He said pig manure and urine was high in nitrogen and phosphates which could wreak havoc if it got into the water source.

"Area 2" is on a slope and during heavy rains the top layer of sandy soil would run directly into the catchment area.

"Even if there was only a 2 per cent risk (of the creek being contaminated), as far as I'm concerned that's too high," Mr Moore said.

"I would like to see the area moved further away so there is no risk."

Neighbours to a proposed piggery off Gap Rd at Keppoch have banded together to express their concerns about the project, particularly in regards to the potential environmental impact (from left): Ali Volker, from Exmoor, Andy Withers, also from Exmoor, Sue Willis (holding Lucas Monfries), Ione Saint, Briony Moore and Ricky Moore.

Neighbours to a proposed piggery off Gap Rd at Keppoch have banded together to express their concerns about the project, particularly in regards to the potential environmental impact (from left): Ali Volker, from Exmoor, Andy Withers, also from Exmoor, Sue Willis (holding Lucas Monfries), Ione Saint, Briony Moore and Ricky Moore.

In the original map submitted to council, this area was not recognised as a water course.

Mr Moore said he and his fellow neighbours were now in the process of organising a representative from the EPA or the Native Vegetation Council to come out and re-survey the land, hopefully identifying the watercourse which they know for a fact is there.

If Morambro Creek and Cockatoo Lake became contaminated it would subsequently affect birds, fish and other wildlife in the area.

According to the Australian Pork Limited and National Environmental Guidelines, piggery complex sites should be well separated from watercourses.

"Practices that allow organic matter to enter surface waters promote algae and aquatic weed growth," it states.

"When these die their decay strips oxygen from the water, killing aquatic life and creating offensive odours.

"High nitrogen levels can cause nitrate and ammonia to accumulate to levels which may be toxic to animals.

"High phosphorus levels in surface water is linked to the occurrence of potentially toxic blue-green algae blooms."

Unpleasant odours emitted from the piggery is another area of concern for the neighbours affected.

In the proposal to council, Happy Pig Australia said the RSPCA and Australian Certified Organic had strict guidelines in regards to odour from ammonia and other forms.

"We have not had any problem maintaining this standard," the document read.

"Both RSPCA and BFA-ACO audit the site at least two times per year. APL conducts audits annually."

Ione Saint, who lives with her husband Michael on a property close to the proposed site, said it was still a worry.

"There are a lot of studies saying (free range and outdoor piggeries) don't have as much odour but we don't know that," she said.

"It depends on the direction of the wind."

She looked back on data from the Padthaway South Bureau of Meteorology over the past 13 months and discovered that 69 per cent of the time, the properties occupied by her and Mr Moore would be affected by winds coming from the direction of the piggery.

Mr Moore added that while the complex plans promised no odour emissions, he couldn't see how this would be possible.

"I have never seen anywhere with a large number of animals without a smell," he said.

"Even a large number of people in an area together will have a smell."

Council's Development Assessment Panel summarised in its agenda last week that due to limiting guidelines for free range piggeries the smell should not be a significant problem.

"The outdoor piggery should have no odour issues as the manure is much less concentrated than an intensive piggery," it read.

"Odour issues can occur if the stocking density is increased. However...the sows cannot be run at more than eight to an acre. 

"The scale and nature of the operation are also contributing factors, this should not be an issue, due to the limiting guidelines for free range piggeries."

Happy Pig Australia declined to comment when contacted by the Herald.

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