We've all heard the stories - someone wakes up one morning and decides they want a sea change or a tree change. "I'll move to the country," they think, picturing rolling hills, peace and quiet. In his or her mind they will be Daryl Kerrigan from The Castle, sitting on the back porch thinking to themselves, "How's the serenity?". They move into a nice little house next to a farming property. What isn't typically talked about is what can happen next - complaints about the hours when farm machinery is starting up or running until, complaints about the noises and odours coming from the farming operations, issues with what is being sprayed on the farm spreading into their property.
The areas devoted to farming are increasingly coming under pressure from new residential developments and townships spreading further out, with considerations regarding the interaction between residential and farming uses often not being sufficiently thought out.
It seems unfair that farmers, who have been on the land for many years, should have to alter their farming practices in order to accommodate new residential allotments to avoid potential nuisance claims.
In 2016, The Planning Development and Infrastructure Act came into force. The various parts of this act are being 'turned on' over time to replace the equivalent parts of the Development Act 1993. It is intended that the new act will control all development in the state, including development in farming areas.
At the moment, there is nothing in the new act, or the associated regulations, that deals with issues arising from the potential conflict between farming uses and other uses.
Under the Development Act 1993 there are development plans specific to each council. These development plans will be replaced by "codes" and associated practice directions, with the intention being that these will provide coherent guidelines for planning and development in SA.
These codes are progressively being released and introduced, starting with the Outback Area Code, which was introduced in July, following consultation earlier in the year.
Public consultation on the Regional Code and the Greater Adelaide Code began at the start of this month. In order to minimise the effects of residential developments in farming areas, the new codes should include principles that provide greater certainty and protection for farmers.
Time will tell as to whether this important issue will finally get the attention it deserves.
This article first appeared in The Stock Journal on 10 October 2019.