Generating controversy

A COUNTRY music “drifter” who fell foul of council rangers after setting up camp in a Manilla paddock has generated controversy once again.

Ellis Girrard, a US-born country music singer, was ordered by Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) to shift his mobile home from a private property earlier this month, despite having the permission of the landowner to be there.

After a public outcry, TRC softened its position, saying it was “encouraging” – not demanding – Mr Girrard and his wife Jackie to leave.

But just a week later, the Girrards were again confronted by a council ranger, who ordered them to stop running a small generator attached to their bus after 8pm at night.

Mr Girrard, who performs regular charity gigs across the region, claims the ranger even told his wife “not to go to the media this time”.

“It’s just not fair and we feel like this ranger is harassing us,” Mr Girrard said.

The ranger was responding to a neighbour’s complaint about the noise from the GX390 generator.

Mr Girrard received a letter on Tuesday saying the generator was in breach of noise pollution levels.

The owner of the land, Manilla businesswoman Ruth Buckler, said she had measured the noise emitted by the generator and found it was less than 60 decibels at 10 paces and about 56 decibels at 30 paces – well below the legal threshold.

Council’s director of planning and community services Jackie Kruger said the generator noise had been assessed by a council staff member and was deemed to be at an unacceptable level.

“It found to be the equivalent of an older style lawnmower and above the regulated level of what’s acceptable after 8pm,” Mrs Kruger said.

Mrs Kruger said the ranger had strongly denied warning the Girrards not to report the issue to the media.

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