Farmers win shooting range dispute on appeal

The site of the proposed shooting range on the slopes of Mt Scobie. Photo by Geoff Adams

Farmers opposing the proposed site for a shooting range, on farmland between Kyabram and Girgarre, have won their case on appeal.

The Kyabram Field and Game Club was planning to build the range on the slopes of Mt Scobie, next to the Valley View Golf Course.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal handed down its decision recently.

Neighbouring farmers were worried that the range could lead to contamination of the ground and water from shotgun pellets.

The golf club was also concerned about the noise that might be generated.

The tribunal found there wasn’t sufficient evidence presented in the case to address concerns raised by the appellants.

The Kyabram club was planning a $300,000 development on the 83-hectare property on the corner of McGregor and Wigg roads.

The planning permit was about to be issued by Campaspe Shire Council, but the objectors appealed to VCAT, citing concerns including soil contamination, traffic impacts, noise and general amenity issues on their dwellings.

At the appeal, the club maintained that the concerns could be met by strict conditions applied to the permit.

Tribunal member Alison Slattery said she could not be persuaded that these conditions in their current form were sufficient to safeguard the amenity of the surrounding land, nor did they protect the viability of the agricultural use of the site.

“In addition to my concerns with waste and water management and with remediation of the site, I have also not been persuaded that the breadth of hours of operation, from 8am up to 9.30pm, every day during daylight savings, is reasonable or compatible with adjoining and nearby land uses,” she said.

However, Ms Slattery did not close the door to further applications if there was extra evidence provided.

“Any new application needs to ensure that these matters are dealt with through proper provision of evidence that can be examined and tested, presumably through cross examination of expert evidence in the fields of hydrology and ecology and/or agronomy to ensure that soil quality will not be adversely affected and that lead remaining on the site will not permanently remove land from agricultural production.”

Kyabram Field and Game president Gino D’Angelo said the club would not give up trying to find a suitable location and in the interim would continue to share facilities with another club at Pine Lodge, east of Shepparton.

“But we do need to find our own place, closer to Kyabram. I think we will be able to attract more members if we had something closer to Kyabram,” Mr D’Angelo said.

He believed the club would try to find an alternative site and would be guided by the comments from the tribunal in terms of what was likely to be acceptable.

“We’re focusing on family members, as it’s one of the few sports where multiple generations can enjoy together,” he said.

One of the objectors, Phil Wade, welcomed the decision and said the objectors were never against the club.

“We fully support sporting organisations, but this needs to be in a more appropriate place,” Mr Wade said.

“We wish them all the best in finding that place.”