OUR SAY: Onus on property owners to get the drift in land use disputes

A LOOMING fight over the impact of agricultural spray drift on neighbouring residential land highlights the age-old problem of managing competing land uses.

Residents of rural residential lots who could benefit from the Shiralee Road residential subdivision are at least dealing with the conflict at the draft stage of the planning process. 

They border a property that has been granted approval to extend a vineyard. But as the rows of vines march closer to the property boundary a spray drift buffer zone has been earmarked for land on their side of the boundary.

Ideally buffer zones to stop spray contamination drifting from working farms onto residential land are designated before land is rezoned residential.

Inevitably some land in the buffer is quarantined from building so agricultural pursuits are not hamstrung later by challenges from new neighbours.

In this case, however, it appears the vineyard expansion was approved despite the possible impact of chemical drift on existing homes. Unless there are changes to the draft now on exhibition the buffer zone will extend over these houses making it legal to expose them to chemical drift, but not new homes.

This must prompt questions of why an expansion of the vineyard was approved that would impact on the use of the neighbours’ property?

The dispute also illustrates the need for all parties to table as much information as possible at every step of the planning and display process.

Some of the residents say the issue of a spray buffer zone being imposed on their property was never mentioned when they were advised council was considering the vineyard expansion.

And despite the group of affected residents, including a former Orange councillor and an aspiring state politician, it seems no one thought to seek out more information.

The council will have to revisit the draft plan, but property owners everywhere should be reminded they ought to scrutinise any proposal in their neighbourhood with a healthy self-interest.


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