ANOTHER feather in chicken producing giant Baiada's expansion plans fell into place on Monday with the approval of a multi-million dollar intensive poultry farm near Manilla.
The Manilla Shire Council approved – on the casting vote of mayor Cheryl Randall – the 250,000 bird project which will be built for C and P Azzopardi of The Inlet, on Wimborne Rd, Manilla who will be contract suppliers to Baiada.
The decision follows recent approvals by Parry Shire Council for multi-million dollar chicken rearing farms at Taradale and Somerton.
They are all part of Baiada's plans for a four-stage expansion including a chicken abattoir based near Tamworth.
Yesterday Cr Randall defended her decision to use her casting vote in favour of the controversial development.
"There were a number of issues of concern for the council, but in essence half the councillors felt earlier issues had been covered with further information received and the others felt there were more issues to be dealt with," Cr Randall said.
"But I honestly felt that we had no defendable planning issues that we could refuse this development on.
"Without a defendable reason we would be taken to the Land and Environment Court and become involved in a lengthy and costly exercise."
However, she said, more important was that if the council lost the case, it would also lose control of the planning process and be unable to enforce the development conditions it saw as necessary.
"In approving it now, we have placed numerous conditions which address the direst issues raised by objectors – if we lost in the court, as I believe we would, we would not be able to ensure that those conditions were enforced," she said.
Cr Randall denied that the problems which Parry shire had faced in chicken farm developments, including an appeal to the Land and Environment Court over the approval of a Somerton development, had any influence on her decision.
"We're all human and I dare say that it was at the back of many of the councillors' minds, but ultimately it had nothing to do with our decision," she said.
"Each development is approved or not approved on its own merits."
The project consists of five broiler sheds, tunnel ventilated for climate control, each housing a maximum of 50,000 birds.
The site is currently being used for livestock grazing and crop cultivation and is zoned as an "intensive livestock keeping establishment".
The council's licencing conditions relate to the use and amount of irrigation water, crown land ownership, chemical storage and disposal, roadworks and Section 94 contributions, environmental monitoring, the amenity of the area, exotic disease outbreak and building approvals.
Cr Jim Maxwell declared an interest in the development and was not present for the vote.