Elimbah farmers' plea for help

HIGH COSTS: Strawberry Growers Association president Luigi Coco.
HIGH COSTS: Strawberry Growers Association president Luigi Coco. Vicki Wood

ELIMBAH farmers hope a new development could save them from losing their livelihoods to competition in north Queensland.

Elimbah was first flagged as a growth area by State Government in 1993 and Moreton Bay Regional Council recently updated the suburb to an Investigation Area.

The train station has been upgraded to cope with more residents, but progress has since come to a grinding halt.

Now local farmer and Queensland Strawberry Growers Association president Luigi Coco says a development could be the last chance for farmers to get out before they lose everything.

"Most farmers are hoping development goes ahead because it's their superannuation," he said.

"There are farmers that it's the only way they can get out and move on, and have something left, because land is getting too dear to farm and be viable.

"Cost production is going through the roof and Elimbah properties are one, not big enough; and two, the layout is not efficient - and Bundaberg is much better."

Mayor Allan Sutherland said MBRC had investigated the feasibility of developing Elimbah and the process identified significant environmental concerns, including encroachment of the Inter-urban Break.

"For many years now, I have publicly stated the need for the retention of an Inter-urban Break between our region and the Sunshine Coast," he said.

As part of the review of the South East Queensland Regional Plan, MBRC wrote to State Government expressing its position that the Inter-urban Break is to be protected. But Member for Glass House Andrew Powell said he believed an Elimbah development was justified by the Sunshine Coast Council's development of Caloundra South and a proposed Beerwah East expansion.

"The previous Labor Government forced local governments to develop in Caloundra South ... I guess the Sunshine Coast has drawn a line in the sand saying that's it, but most would agree to look at development along the railway corridor," he said.

"I want distinction; I don't want all the towns merging into one all the way along the metro line, and I don't want to see an urban sprawl like south Brisbane to the Gold Coast. (But) if you accept the 'break' starts north of Elimbah and south of Caloundra South, there are ways to design so you don't see the houses with a natural buffer."

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