Cabonne Council gives go-ahead for hydroponic Asian vegetable operation near Orange despite residents' complaints

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Cabonne Council has defended its approval of a large greenhouse operation to be built on scenic farmland on Canobolas Road despite residents’ concerns.

We stand totally opposed to it. - Simon Williams, local resident

The residents claim the complex of large greenhouses and a packing shed that would create jobs for up to 24 people for growing hydroponic Asian vegetables will be unsightly and create water catchment and soil problems.

Cabonne Council approved the application from Orange Towac Valley Pty Ltd after a site inspection by councillors and requesting 3D artwork (pictured above) of the proposed development.

Cabonne mayor Cr Ian Gosper said the council listened to residents’ objections but decided, “the benefits outweighed the negatives.”

UNAPPEALING: Resident Simon Williams has opposed the operation shown in artwork (top). Photo: JUDE KEOGH

UNAPPEALING: Resident Simon Williams has opposed the operation shown in artwork (top). Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Cr Gosper said council approved the development application as it “fitted into council’s zoning for that area”.

“It is an agricultural industry. It’s a permissible use of that area. We couldn’t see any reason why we couldn’t approve it.”

He said that based on information supplied with the application and the 3D artwork of the proposal he believed the complex would fit into the landscape.

“That showed that it wasn’t over any of the treeline. It was cut into the lie of the land,” Cr Gosper said.

Local cattle farmer Simon Williams said he would be looking straight at the complex. “It’s approximately the size of Bunnings in North Orange,” he said.

“We stand totally opposed to it. Council didn’t take any notice of any concerns of the residents around it. We were railroaded, basically,” Mr Williams said.

He said his only course of further action was to take the matter to the Land and Environment Court but he could not afford it.

“I’m not prepared to put up a couple of hundred thousand dollars of my money, basically to try to prove an ethical point that the council should be protecting the landscape.”

Mr Williams said there were no other greenhouses in the area and was worried about how they would stand up to hailstorms.

“The first hailstorm in the area will shred the greenhouse and destroy any crop they’ve got growing in it.”

Fellow resident Fred Emmi said the development was on “prime agricultural land”.

“They are destroying the natural resources. They are going to have to dig down through the soil into the bedrock to build this thing.”

Mr Emmi said he was worried run-off water might end up in Lake Canobolas and enter drinking water.

The development application was lodged by Geolyse.

Geolyse town planner, David Walker, said Orange Towac Valley Pty Ltd was a Sydney-based company with “linkeages to China”.

Mr Walker said Geolyse was now preparing further reports to meet conditions set by council.

The application states that the buildings will be cut up to 6.6m into the hill. It will operate seven days a week for a nine-month growing season.

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