Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Win for Kybong Farmers; How an Idyllic Country Dream Became a Costly Nightmare

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Win for Kybong Farmers; How an Idyllic Country Dream Became a Costly Nightmare

Article excerpt

Byline: Sherele Moody Sherele.Moody@newsregionalmedia.com.au

SOME 20 years ago, Stuart Andrews dreamt of rehabilitating damaged landscapes by producing ethically grown free-range pigs and eggs for Australia's hospitality trade.

In 2015, he began putting that plan into action, asking Gympie Regional Council to approve a proposal for Forager Farm at 87 Mullaly Rd, Kybong.

"Everything for me is about how we can rehabilitate landscapes that no longer function," Mr Andrews said.

"When you've got a landscape that's degraded you need to look at having animals or plants on there to start the process of rebuilding it.

"Chickens and pigs will stimulate the right plants to come in and it all builds from there."

Despite vehement opposition from some local residents, last May the council gave Mr Andrews the green light to raise 1000 pigs, 10,000 hens and 150 head of cattle on the 108ha beside the Mary River.

Those opposing the farm feared it would contaminate Gympie's water supply, create bad smells from manure, ruin the views of neighbouring landholders and attract flies and feral pests.

The council addressed these concerns by placing 21 restrictions on the proposal, including water protection measures and livestock number limitations.

Mr Andrews, his wife Megan and their two teenage sons began building their business, but local environmentalists stepped up their opposition.

The small group of residents lobbied the council to tighten the restrictions and four of them took the issue to the Queensland Planning and Environment Court.

By the time the trial began on Monday with a site visit by Judge William Everson, three of the applicants had withdrawn from the case.

The last man standing was 74-year-old retired schoolteacher Reginald Ross Lawler, who was self-representing.

Barrister Ben Jobe, acting for Mr Andrews, yesterday told the court that all of the "scientific evidence" showed Forage Farms was an "appropriate use of the site". …

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