Million chick a week hatchery approved

DESPITE another split vote on a proposed million chick a week hatchery in Allora, planning approval was granted at yesterday’s Southern Downs Regional Council general meeting.

While elected officials were open about the location of the Darwalla Milling operation being less than ideal, the majority stuck to their guns and it was approved.

Situated on Bradfields Rd, next to Dalrymple Creek, the site is on the flood plain and for Cr Ross Bartley, the issue of fill in this area was his reason for voting against the plan.

He said he wasn’t as concerned about the eight million litres of wastewater irrigated annually upstream of Allora, but he could not support any fill being put on the flood plain – especially before the new flood study had been finalised.

“I think it’s a great thing and the Allora people should embrace it,” Cr Bartley said.

“But I think this might just be the wrong paddock.”

Darwalla operates poultry farms at Talgai and Clifton, from where eggs will be taken to the Allora site, which will eventually incubate and hatch a million chicks every week.

The chicks will not be fed at the hatchery and will be moved on four times a week to growing facilities elsewhere.

A report to councillors outlined a plan by Darwalla to irrigate surrounding pasture for cropping with the 7.8 million litres of wastewater the hatchery will produce every year once it reaches full production.

In previous discussions, planning director Ken Harris made it clear the council would have no firm legal leg to stand on if it turned down the plan and yesterday played down the operation’s potential impact.

“This is just a big shed,” Mr Harris said.

“It’s a big shed with eggs in it and at the end of the process they clean the shed down.

“It’s not chemical waste.”

He added that if there were any environmental concerns after approval, the council would be able to revisit its conditions under the Sustainable Planning Act.

However, for Cr Peter Blundell, the land in question still caused him concern.

He said he had no doubt the management of the operation would be “first class” but that it was on strategic cropping land, which should be protected.

“You can put a hatchery in another location but you can’t necessarily grow cabbages in another location,” he said.

Cr Blundell said the State Government was doing a huge amount of work on land to grow food and for that reason the hatchery should be situated elsewhere.

While Mayor Ron Bellingham agreed the site wasn’t ideal he said the development was positive.

“You have to deal with what’s in front of you and I think it’s certainly a development which should be welcomed in our community,” he said.

The planning approval was granted subject to conditions.

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