Bug-ger off

By HUGH KEARNEY

WORSE flooding at Chinderah, more acid-sulfate soil pollution, 1.8 million litres of extra treated sewage daily into the Tweed River, hundreds of hectares of spoiled cane land - plus the odour of seven tonnes of fermented squid every day...

Those were some of the concerns raised at a public meeting this week about a Moreton Bay bug farm proposed for Chinderah, and if you don't like the sound of it, you'd better be quick because residents have until January 7, 2005 to lodge an objection with the minister.

Cane farmers, vegetable growers, residents associations and landholders are pleading with the state government for more time to consider the development application which could see the 45-hectare bug farm rising four metres above the Chinderah canefields.

A public meeting at Melaleuca Station on Monday night chaired by Tweed mayor Warren Polglase saw 33 interested people express concerns over the proposal because of the likely adverse impact on the surrounding area.

The aquaculture farm is slated for an existing cane farm between Melaleuca Station and the new Tweed motorway and if it is developed to completion, will cover an area of 45 hectares on a 180-hectare property.

Chinderah canegrower Andrew Brinsmead, whose property adjoins the proposed bug farm, has been fighting a one-man roadside war against the proposal, erecting eight large signs alerting motorists to the impact of the farm and the rapidly-approaching cut-off date for public submissions.

Mr Brinsmead said, like many people, he was all for the proposal when he first heard about it, but since studying the weighty development application (DA), has changed his mind completely.

"This project flies in the face of everything we can do now," an angry Mr Brinsmead said.

"Cane farmers operate under stringent EPA regulations regarding anything to do with moving soil," he said.

"I can't dig a post hole without getting a mini-DA, yet this is a state government-backed project, sanctioned by the EPA.

"Whoever is pushing this is both ignorant of the local conditions and being extremely arrogant towards the opinions of the farmers. We are shocked and perplexed by the detail in this proposal and the sheer scale of it.

"They intend to build four-metre-high bunds over 45 hectares, then put in a huge processing plant and ponds, and pump in seawater from the ocean at Kingscliff.

"They will have to truck in seven tonnes of squid every day which will be fermented and fed to the bugs," he said.

"They then want to pump an extra 1.8 million litres of farm effluent a day back to the Tweed River via the Kingscliff sewerage treatment plant, and divert all their stormwater into our cane drains," Mr Brinsmead said.

"It is a giant fiasco that will make floods deeper and longer - and when do they put the DA out for public comment? - over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

"That is an appalling disgrace and that was why we called the meeting, to ask for more time to study this proposal," Mr Brinsmead said.



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