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Farmers blast council's explosive decision

Tim Rudduck and Belinda Marriage have slammed the Southern Downs Regional Council's decisions to allow explosives disposal near their property.
Tim Rudduck and Belinda Marriage have slammed the Southern Downs Regional Council's decisions to allow explosives disposal near their property. Liana Turner

AN IMPASSIONED presentation wasn't enough to convince Southern Downs councillors to knock back plans for an explosives disposal facility.

Belinda Marriage was the first community member to ever present a case to the council in person at a meeting.

Ms Marriage said she and partner Tim Rudduck believed their farm at Karara would be significantly impacted by explosive disposal at the site to be developed by Extech.

Councillors Neil Meiklejohn, Rod Kelly, and deputy mayor Jo McNally also supported the decision along with Cr Dobie.

Crs Vic Pennisi, Sheryl Windle, Marika McNichol and Yve Stocks voted against the decision.

Cr Cameron Gow was absent from the meeting, but the council approved the application, with mayor Tracy Dobie using her casting vote.

The couple and their supporters, who almost filled the public gallery, were emotional after the decision.

Mr Rudduck said they would be seeking legal advise and hoped to appeal the decision.

He said the decision went against the council's push for agriculture and tourism to thrive on the Southern Downs and Granite Belt, and described it as a "slap in the face" for primary producers.

"Just because we're on the western side, why should we be different?" he said.

Ms Marriage said she was disappointed with the council and Cr Dobie.

SDRC director of planning, environment and corporate services Ken Harris said he was among the six officers who assessed the site, which involved trial blasts.

"The incident of flyrock or debris spread is quite limited," he said.

Officers recommended the application could be approved "with proper conditions".

Property owner Bruce McLeish, whose fine wool sheep grazing property will be the site of the Extech development, said he had confidence in the process to have the facility approved.

"We would have been okay with decision not matter what the council had decided," Mr McLeish said.

"Through the whole process we have had full confidence in the Extech staff and the State and Local Government bodies who have gone through this process.

"At end of the day, we are not going to let people on our property who would be destroying our property or hurting our livestock."

Mr McLeish said the application approved outlined the company would only operate for one to three days each month.

He said each explosion would likely only be 100-200kg, though a maximum of 300kg was given in the development application.

"It is all very regulated - there will be signs up on all entries to our property when Extech are here and neighbours will be advised in advance when they are here," Mr McLeish said.

Extech technical services manager Lee Hayter said he was pleased the plans had been approved following a rigorous application process.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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