An amendment to the Western Downs Regional Council planning scheme could see prime agricultural land rezoned for high impact industrial use.
The area west of town was identified for further investigation in the Industrial Land Use Strategy written by PSA Consulting Australia in 2017, with the council making the proposed amendment in October.
Western Downs mayor, Paul McVeigh, said the proposed amendments were focused on providing opportunity for high impact industry uses in key locations in Dalby, which minimise the impact on residents.
“Most major towns in Queensland would have identified heavy industry areas,” Cr McVeigh said.
"Dalby already has a number of businesses that are high impact industry such as the White Industries foundry, concrete batching plants, the ethanol plant, cotton gin, boiler making, major manufacturing and many more.
“These industries are major employers in our region and support many direct jobs as well as the jobs of other businesses.”
Cr McVeigh said Dalby was in need of industrial sites with greater land area to continue to grow the opportunity in the economy and for jobs for the future.
"People have talked for decades about a meat processing plant for Dalby, but the truth is that we currently don’t have a site that has the suitable zoning, with the access to the required infrastructure, yet is far enough away from densely populated areas,” he said.
"We have enormous opportunity to expand our manufacturing and processing industries with the second range crossing opening next year.
“We need to think of the future and identify suitable land to enable Dalby to benefit from this tremendous new opportunity.”
Landholders in the identified area have expressed their concern over the amendment, making submissions to council during their consultancy period to highlight issues as they see them.
Zena Ronnfeldt, Yaralla Park, Dalby, said having a high impact industry as a neighbour would have a significant impact on their food safety compliance and biosecurity obligations.
“We will have noxious and/or hazardous industries, likely to have ‘significant adverse off-site impacts’, operating on our doorstep,” she said.
“The WDRC strategy report tells us these are industries so nasty, other SEQ local governments do not want them and other SEQ urban areas do not support them, and it goes on to say WDRC will actively promote this new industrial zone and will expand it as soon as they get enough demand.
“This property is significant in our business operation, and taking it out of production means less land available for our next generation to farm.”
The Queensland Farmers’ Federation made a submission to council, expressing its concern over the amendment.
“State policy preference is for high impact industry to be surrounded by medium then low impact industrial zoning, to buffer other uses from adverse impacts,” the submission said.
“The WDRC PDA High Impact Industry provisions make little or no reference to this, disregarding the vulnerability of agricultural land use to contamination and other biosecurity issues which arise from proximity to high impact industry.
“This is not an acceptable outcome. Rural land is not a buffer for High Impact Industry.”
Cotton Australia also made a submission on the amendment, reiterating the concerns highlighted by QFF.