COMPLAINTS from tree-changers affected by farming noise, sprays and dust are forcing Bundaberg growers to abandon viable farming land, according to industry group Canegrowers.
Bundaberg Canegrowers director Allan Dingle said the issue had become a hot political issue for the Canegrowers group in the region, but also across Australia.
“Farmers try to slash, burn or spray their crop, and the resident rings the council to complain they are being disturbed by noise or dust,” Mr Dingle said.
“Eventually, the council and government bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency can become involved, and pressure gets the better of the grower — they just stop growing on that land.”
He said people seemed to buy land in rural areas thinking it was always peaceful, but were often surprised at harvest time, or if a grower changed his crop.
“It's a big problem. The law says it doesn't matter who was there first,” Mr Dingle said.
“If a farmer has to start harvesting at 4am, (the resident) might not appreciate a harvester rolling past their bedroom window at that time, but it's the farmer's livelihood. They have to make a living off that land.”
Bundaberg Regional Council senior town planner Richard Jenner said many of Bundaberg's problem areas were a legacy of previous councils' planning decisions.
“Little can be done about the configuration of existing lots that were subdivided under previous councils, but our new planning provisions consider very closely the potential for conflict,” he said.
He said the regulations now aimed to prevent lifestyle clashes, by making it mandatory for all new subdivisions to provide an adequate buffer between agricultural land and housing.
“Most of the time, the grower and the resident can come to a commonsense agreement,” Mr Jenner said.
“The main priority is to protect and preserve the land that will provide the resources to an area.”