Widgee grazier shocked by land use decision

Widgee grazier shocked by land use decision


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Bill Pukallus and Anna Hobbs-Pukallus in their paddock on their property called Currawan Park, Widgee near Gympie. The property is across the road from a steel fabrication site.

Bill Pukallus and Anna Hobbs-Pukallus in their paddock on their property called Currawan Park, Widgee near Gympie. The property is across the road from a steel fabrication site.

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Widgee rural property owners Bill Pukallus and Anna Hobbs-Pukallus will consider a court appeal against a council decision to allow a steel fabrication business to operate on rural land opposite their farm.

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Widgee rural property owners Bill Pukallus and Anna Hobbs-Pukallus will consider a court appeal against a council decision to allow a steel fabrication business to operate on rural land opposite their farm.

The steel business originally operated on the site as a small business with council approval, but overtime increased greatly in size without proper council approvals.

It was given further approvals by the original Kilkivan Shire Council to an under roof working area of 642m sq, but last year – what is now Gympie Regional Council – decided the business had to move to industrial land within two years.

This week council voted to let the business stay.

Six out of eight councillors voted to approve an application by Widgee Engineering, which included an amendment to allow the steel manufacturer to continue operations as long as retrospective building and operational work permits were obtained within six months.

The Pukallus family’s 173 hectare grazing property is across the road from structural steel manufacturer Widgee Engineering.

The Pukallus family have previously complained that the steel operation was contaminating its property.

The Pukallus family's Currawan Park property at Widgee near Gympie.

The Pukallus family's Currawan Park property at Widgee near Gympie.

“I’m concerned about what this decision means for the town planning and the land zoning for the Gympie region, plus all rural zoned land in Queensland,” Mr Pukallus said.

“I feel a responsibility to defend our right to operate a small cattle operation on rural zoned land without impact from a steel manufacturing works that until now hasn’t had full and proper council approvals to operate on rural zoned land.

Widgee Engineering owner Pete Saal after the Gympie Regional Council meeting on Thursday.

Widgee Engineering owner Pete Saal after the Gympie Regional Council meeting on Thursday.

“I’m also worried about the land value impact on our property as we are getting older and this was our retirement investment.”

The Gympie Regional Council meeting was attended by a large number of Widgee Engineering workers, family and friends.

The Gympie Regional Council meeting was attended by a large number of Widgee Engineering workers, family and friends.

Mayor Mick Curran said the two applications – one last year and one this year – by Widgee Engineering varied, with the first being a development application and the second a “change application for consent approval under interim development bylaws”. 

Cr Curran said that if the business had applied for a new development he would not have supported it.

But the business had a long history at the site and had been given an approval by Kilkivan Shire Council to operate in a rural zone.

The Widgee Engineering site.

The Widgee Engineering site.

Council’s approval can be appealed only through the Planning and Environment Court.

Widgee Engineering owners Pete and Di Saal were unable to be contacted by Queensland Country Life, but company spokesperson Malcolm Biegel said they were relieved with council’s decision to approve their application.

Widgee Engineering workers celebrate as they leave Gympie Regional Council town hall on Thursday.

Widgee Engineering workers celebrate as they leave Gympie Regional Council town hall on Thursday.

Widgee Engineering first received building and operation works approval in 1993 and has since had council approval for an under roof operation of 642m sq. The steel manufacturer currently operates on a 2500m sq under roof area and outside storage/materials and other work activities of 4800m sq.

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