GEORGE NEWS - An application for the development of a chicken farm on portion 14 of farm 158 (Wilderness Heights between Constantiakloof and Whites Road) has been lodged with the George Municipality.
This was confirmed this afternoon by Dee Marcus, a concerned resident of Wilderness, who called on others who also want to lodge a complaint, to do so urgently, as the deadline is on Monday 20 July.
Some concerned residents have written the following letter to all Wilderness residents:
Dear Wilderness Residents,
An application for the development of an Intensive Chicken Farm has been lodged with the George Municipality. The basic facts as presented in the application are:
1. 6 x 120m² 'batteries' to be constructed in a phased approach (starting with 2 batteries and scaling with demand)
2. 816 chickens per battery (1 per m²). Total of 4896 birds (under 5 000, therefore not triggering NEMA)
3. 7th structure for disinfection.
4. Slaughtering and marketing in Riversdale.
5. No direct sales to public.
6. Water from a 52 000-litre cistern under the house
7. Electricity from Eskom.
8. Chicken manure supposed to be composted on site (after comment from the muni in pre planning). However the plan is to spread the manure over their 'oat field' for the first 2 years - this is a big red flag for ± 1 600 birds’ worth of manure for 2 years on a small field sounds like a recipe for serious runoff and nitrification. This is not adequately addressed.
9. They claim the following in reference to the character of the area:
- The proposal has no negative impact on the character of the surrounding rural area.
- That it won’t affect the property value of neighbours.
- It won’t have any negative environmental impacts
- That the plan is in line with SPLUMA.
- Dense vegetation prevents views of the chicken farm from all sides
PLEASE CONSIDER OPPOSING THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN INTENSIVE CHICKEN FARM TO BE LOCATED ON WHITES ROAD IN WILDERNESS HEIGHTS.
There is no doubt that such a development will have a major impact on our environment. There is enough scientific evidence of the serious problems that neighbours experience as a result of being in close proximity to the proposed intensive chicken farm development.
Here are some of the facts:
1. The property falls within an endangered ecosystem in the Western Cape Biodiversity Spatial Plan (2017).
2. All of the properties listed by their registered erf numbers in this Schedule are included, either wholly or partially, within the Outeniqua Sensitive Coastal Area Extension, which will also include any further present or future registered subdivisions of these properties.
3. The scale and type of intensive farming in relation to the size of the property and its proximity to neighbours and the national park is of concern.
4. They intend to have 6 operating chicken batteries with 8 chickens per m²,eventually housing just under 5 000 chickens, the threshold for an Environmental Impact Assessment.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INCLUDE:
1. How will the manure of just under 5 000 chickens be disposed of every few weeks? Only the first two years have been addressed. The report proposes that for the first two years, the chicken manure will be spread on the oat fields on the farm. This contravenes the recommendations of the South African Poultry Association Biosecurity guidelines pg. 7:
“During full cleanouts, end of batch litter must not be stockpiled on the farm site nor should the next batch’s litter be placed in the houses before total disinfection has taken place.”
2. As the property is on a ridge, the spreading of any chicken manure on the fields and any run-off from cleaning the batteries may cause nitrification of the streams downslope which feed into the Touws River catchment and the Garden Route National Park.
3. The disposal of any dead chickens has not been addressed in the application and is an important biosecurity consideration.
4. High densities of chickens lead to disease outbreaks. Therefore, biosecurity is a specific concern especially due to the proximity of neighbouring smallholdings, who may have their own small flocks of free-range chickens, as well as the proximity to the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park. One of the reasons that The Wilderness Lakes System became a RAMSAR site was because of the large numbers of wild birds that frequent the lakes. The South African Poultry Association Biosecurity guidelines state pg. 7:
“Migratory birds may use this area as part of their flyway. If migratory birds are in the area, special care should be taken to avoid infecting the flock with diseases that may be carried by these birds such as AI.”
SENSE-OF-PLACE AND COMMUNITY WELL-BEING CONSIDERATIONS:
1. Intensive chicken farms create an odour problem. The scale of the proposed facility is just under the 5 000-chicken threshold and is bound to create an odour problem for surrounding neighbours. The closest house is under 100m away from the first battery house. This has been omitted from the report. In addition, the landowners have not been informed and consulted on the proposed development?
2. Security is a major problem for chicken farms as chickens are regularly stolen from facilities. Will the battery house area of the farm be fenced off to prevent theft as well as to reduce the attraction of predators and pests? The South African Poultry Association Biosecurity guidelines state pg. 7:
3. “Fence in the perimeter of the poultry operation and keep fence in good repair or a natural perimeter should be established around the farm. If anything from outside the area is entering the farm, it should be considered a source for contamination.”
4. However, fencing the entire farm and/or outdoor security lighting will significantly affect the area’s sense-of-place and should be avoided.
5. Intensive chicken farms attract numerous pests including flies and rodents. Attracting these will negatively affect surrounding households, livestock and their health.
6. Staff and their housing facilities have not been addressed in the application.
In light of the above, it is evident that the application is an inappropriate form of agriculture in the context of the smallholdings of Wilderness Heights and in relation to the risk it may pose to the Garden Route National Park, and the health of the surrounding residents.
An unsustainable, large-scale intensive chicken battery farm does not complement the area’s sense-of-place and is better suited to an Agri 1 zoned area where the negative nuisance, health and biosecurity risks will be reduced.
SUMMARY OF CONCERNS FACING RESIDENTS OF CONSTANTIA KLOOF
• Transporting the chickens to the abattoir – will the access roads be able to accommodate trucks and the like
• Intensive chicken farming poses numerous hazards, the main ones being air, water, and noise pollution
• Studies have indicated that the smell is often bad – up to 500m away
• There is also the noise pollution issue
• Potential water pollution is also an issue
• Disease outbreaks on these chicken farms are a constant threat – these diseases can spread to chickens on neighbouring farms and to wild birds
THE DEADLINE FOR LODGING OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT IS 20 JULY 2020
You are urged to take some time out to send an email stating your opposition using the following format:
PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU SIGN THE LETTER OF OPPOSITION
Attention: Marina Welman
George Municipality Town Planning Department
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