LOCAL grazier Warwick Armstrong says he has concerns, along with other landholders, about a small lot subdivision proposed for a neighbouring property on Titania Road.
"A while ago I read in the Review about the floodwater off the proposed subdivision at 175 Titania Road carrying rubbish onto my neighbour’s farmland,” he said.
"The article spoke about a 2007 storm that dumped some 50 millimetres of rain. We were also affected by it, but it is not necessary to go that far back.
"This year in January, when Springbank, the official meteorology weather station, reported a 24mm fall, more than 75mm fell on farms north of Essington, causing serious damage to dams and paddocks.
"In relation to the proposed 175 Titania Road subdivision, at Ferndale we have 98 hectares of prime agricultural land on the east side of the subdivision and have seen run-off from the subdivision at fence height in rainstorms.
"The DA proposes to place eight homes on this particular catchment.”
Mr Armstrong said his family had farmed in Oberon since the mid-1800s and “we know this country and its farming capacity and its vulnerabilities to flooding as well as droughts”.
"To us it is incomprehensible that council would even contemplate placing a subdivision in the catchment area above our paddocks,” he said. "At Ferndale, we run an Australian White stud as well as a commercial sheep operation and have put substantial funds into the development of the breed and its markets - both local and export.
"I think both the developer and council need to understand that the development will play havoc with the biosecurity of Ferndale and its livestock business.
"From October 1, 2017, we as red meat producers are required to comply with all the LPA Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines.
"We are brucellosis accredited and free of footrot and cannot afford to have our livestock put at risk.”
Mr Armstrong said the development will exacerbate floodwater events “as each lot built adds large areas of impermeable surfaces”.
He said it appeared the proposal was to introduce a 10 metre buffer “between us and the development”.
“With eight properties upstream, it will make no difference in a stormwater event,” he said.
"We live here, and by experience we know what stormwater can do to our land.
"Development means we will be subject to all the suburban floodwater issues with grime, surface detritus, an unknown soup of chemical residues (including from sewerage failures over time), plenty of seeds from exotic plants and weeds, and animal excrements and other residue from dogs and pets and farm animals of unknown health status.
"We are required under the legislation to control and eliminate all these threats to livestock health and meat quality.
“It is just not do-able in this scenario and on that count alone the subdivision must be rejected by council."
Mr Armstrong said neighbours downstream on the Deep Creek catchment have similar fears for their farms.
"The R5 large lot residential zoning is there to form a buffer for the protection of prime agricultural land and eliminate land use conflicts.
"The law permits and gives council the power to prescribe lot sizes above the MLS where local specifics, topography, geology and hydrological circumstances require it.
"In this case, the area for development is a stormwater catchment flooding on to prime agricultural land.
"I think 20 hectare lots would perhaps be acceptable for this unserviced land; the proposal as it stands is a joke and is not acceptable. We absolutely object to this development going ahead.
"When the development was first brought to council we were never notified that this was on the table and my property is on the boundary line."
Mr Armstrong will have eight blocks of the proposed 45-lot subdivision adjoining his property.
Back Creek is directly in line of the stormwater run-off which runs into the Fish River.
Mr Armstrong said property owners further down the creek have concerns as well.
“If we get a gully-raker storm, there will be nothing anyone can do. The terrain is steep and I’ve seen rain up to the fenceline.”