Farmer backlash: Somerset to review vegetation management
SOMERSET Regional Council is reviewing its vegetation management framework introduced earlier this year after a backlash from local farmers.
The balance between maintaining region's agriculture expansion and protecting animal habitats has been a hard one to find.
AgForce CEO Charles Burke attended today's council meeting to provide industry input on the current vegetation management processes.
AgForce is the unifying voice for Queensland's beef, sheep and grain producers.
In March, council introduced its Somerset Region Planning Scheme which included requirements for vegetation clearing across the local government area.
Despite undertaking months of consultation with the community prior to the changes being implemented, concerns have been raised after the changes came into effect.
Mr Burke said the changes impacted heavily on farmers and graziers within Somerset, who rely on the land for their livelihoods.
Somerset mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was clear now that the changes to vegetation management had caused "unintended consequences".
"It was council's intent to protect the natural amenity of Somerset - our rural landscapes, by imposing conditions on the level of tree clearing occurring in the region," Cr Lehmann said.
"It was not council's intent to prohibit graziers and farmers who rely on the land for production from continuing their activities.
"These changes were implemented as a direct result of council wanting to protect our rural lifestyle which is synonymous with the Somerset region and protecting our native animals, particularly koala habitats.
"Protection of koala habitat is an important focus but it's vital for us to find an appropriate and manageable medium that allows our farming community to continue their agricultural activities while protecting habitat."
Cr Lehmann said community comment would be encouraged during the review.
"Council is undertaking a review of its vegetation management framework in the planning scheme as part of the planning scheme amendment process," he said.
"Public comment on the proposed changes will be encouraged during the review process."