NORTHERN Grampians Shire councillors have voted to enforce an infringement notice to egg producer Valley Park Farm after the company applied for an internal review.
The council issued Valley Park Farm a planning infringement notice worth $1611.10 for operating outside of its designated hours on March 20, 2019 at its St Arnaud site on the Sunraysia Highway.
The infringement was prompted after a local resident submitted a complaint to the council.
Valley Park Farm - which has sites across the state and supplies free range eggs to Coles and Woolworths - engaged consultants FocusCDS Consultants to appeal the infringement notice on their behalf, and seek an internal review based on exceptional circumstances.
A statement the consultants provided to the council outlined the reasons for the breach:
'That on 20 March 2019 the hens on the farm were euthanised as they were at the end of their 68 week production cycle. Once euthanised, the hens were loaded into tip trucks by forklift. The trucks were then taken off-site to a rendering plant.
The contractor undertaking the bird removal experienced problems with the forklift which resulted in the loading of birds being delayed beyond 6.00pm.
The contractor was using a hired forklift .. was continually overheating during the heat of the day, which lead to operations having to frequently stop... This meant that operations could not be conducted efficiently and be completed prior to 6.00pm.
The contractor had the choice of leaving the dead birds on-site overnight or completing the removal process and having the truck exit the site after 6.00pm.'
At the council's August ordinary meeting, councillors voted to enforce the infringement notice, where three options were presented:
- That the council considers the exceptional circumstances presented by FocusCDS Consultants
- Withdraws the infringement notice and serves an official warning in place of the infringement notice
- Withdraws the infringement notice.
Nonetheless, Valley Park Farm general manager John Fyfe said the business was working well with the council.
"We're happy to resolve any and all issues," he said. "It's good for the council, local residents and ourselves."
This wasn't the first time a resident has objected to events linked to the site.
In 2018 the business went to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to appeal another council decision, this time to reject a retrospective planning permit which would allow the use and development of the land for Intensive Animal Husbandry for a free range layer hen farm with 50,000 birds and egg production.
At the time local residents complained of the noise and smell of living near the site.
However, this permit was eventually approved.
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