FEEDLOTS, piggeries and poultry farms can be proposed for anywhere on the Southern Downs and Granite Belt under changes made by the State Government to new council planning rules.
As reported, a new planning scheme for the region replacing the former Warwick and Stanthorpe town plans took effect this week, after gaining state approval.
But with the state having the final say on what councils can and can't approve, Mayor Peter Blundell yesterday conceded some of the state-mandated changes were not in line with council's wishes.
Among these was a council proposal in its draft planning scheme to designate only certain parts of rural districts as suitable for "intensive animal industries", after several controversial applications in recent years for cattle and sheep feedlots and "broiler" chicken farms.
But the State Government has undermined that policy, insisting such industries be considered wherever applicants wish to locate them.
Cr Blundell said the council's intention had been to "clearly state" in the planning scheme where such industries may or may not be established.
"The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry insisted the planning scheme should not restrict the development of intensive animal industries to any particular areas," he said.
"They have instead required that applications for such uses should be considered on their merits anywhere in the region."
Intensive animal uses would still need to pass a wide range of environmental and other conditions, but local planning industry sources said the state move could make it harder for the council to defend decisions in court.
The Southern Downs Regional Council is currently dealing with two poultry farm proposals under the former Warwick town plan.
A plan for Elbow Valley by the Carr Farming Trust is the subject of legal moves after the Carr family challenged a range of council conditions of approval in court.
A council spokeswoman said "expert witnesses" were holding discussions and a mediation meeting would be held later this month.
A similar plan by Sam Fessey's South Toolburra for the former Danpork site at Pratten is still going through the council, with planning staff having asked for further expert odour modelling.
The spokeswoman said there was no timeframe at this stage for this to be provided, and that no report would come before councillors until it was received.