THE Victorian Government last week said it is overhauling Victoria's agricultural planning rules with a suite of proposed reforms that aim to strike the balance between delivering for farmers and meeting community expectations.
The proposed changes simplify planning requirements for animal based farming and improve the consistency of how the rules are applied. The reforms seek to make the land use planning process clearer for farmers, councils and the community.
The work delivers on key actions under 'Planning for Sustainable Animal Industries', the State Government's response to the 2016 Animal Industries Advisory Committee report.
A two-month consultation period is now under way to collect feedback on proposed new land use terms and definitions, graduated planning controls and guidance to help improve the quality of planning applications and permit conditions.
The proposed changes include:
- New planning land use definitions that are clearer and easier to understand and do not capture animal industries with negligible off-site impacts.
- Clearly explained planning requirements for livestock producers that better support their day-to-day operations.
- Planning permit and public notice exemptions for small-scale, low-risk pig farms and poultry farms that incorporate environmental and amenity safeguards.
- Consistent planning requirements for free range and conventional broiler farms.
- Removal of restrictions on animal industries establishing in industrial zones.
- Clearer planning regulations through changes to 19 planning scheme zones.
- Guidance for farmers and councils about preparing planning permit applications and permits.
According to the government, the reforms have been developed with significant input from a reference group comprising key industry sectors, local government and community members.
The proposed changes are expected to provide farmers with greater certainty due to clearer land use definitions and planning controls, more flexibility to supplementary feed their livestock without the need for a planning permit, and permit exemptions for small scale pig and poultry producers.
Further opportunities to simplify planning requirements for low risk farming will be explored in 2018 and 2019 as part of the ongoing Planning for Sustainable Animal Industries initiative.
In August, the Victorian Government announced the introduction of new rules to streamline planning approval processes for new or expanding greyhound facilities. The new rules govern the scale of racing dog facilities, ensure appropriate setbacks from boundaries and neighbouring dwellings, require gates that prevent the escape of racing dogs and ensure landscaping is used to preserve views from nearby properties.
More information about the reforms to agricultural planning rules is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website at <https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/planning-reform/sustainable-animal-industries>. The consultation period ends on 14 November 2017.