Bureaucracy shuts down fish farm
A SUSAN River fish farm that was going to employ up to 65 people and turn over more than $4 million a year has had the pin pulled on it over council bureaucracy.
“This is environmental terrorism,” the angry Noble Road fish farm proprietor Peter Penrose said yesterday.
“I’ve pulled the pin.
“I have outlaid about $20,000 to try to get a self-sufficient business up and running on an existing fish farm.
“But at every turn with this council I have been sent away to supply them with more and still more and finally told I had to have a material change of use to build a shade house.”
Sunshine Coast-based Peter Penrose and his wife Mary come from a commercial fishing business in New Zealand and picked the Fraser Coast to expand on the existing fish farm on 53.58ha.
“We bought the farm in 2005. We only bought it because it already had a government aquaculture permit.”
Mr Penrose said the idea behind the farm was to employ some of the skills in fish processing, transport and marketing he had gained over many years in the fishing industry.
“We wanted to set up a fish farm incorporating the best in sustainability, efficient energy use, animal welfare and the concept of polyculture whereby several species are involved in the best use of resources.
“The basic plan was to use the existing ponds to rear silver perch in cages and another fish under the cages, then to erect a large shed at the end of the ponds to house 240 tons per year recirculating system with the waste water being circulated through a hydroponics system.
“This would allow us to produce 150,000 leafy green vegetables per month. This acts as a filter and returns clean water back to the system.
“We applied to erect a shade house to cover some tanks for quarantine and erect the first 500 lengths of hydroponics pipe, as we are required to do under the building rules. We then reached the point with the certifiers and town planning where the DPI and F permit was rejected and we were required to apply for a new Material Change of Use.
“I was still going ahead with the fish – all 250 ton of barramundi and 40 ton of silver perch a year and in cages in the five existing dams.
“We believe that unless we are able to set up the farm as we have planned the project will fail. The failure of most farms is due to sole owner/operator and a major event like loss of power, water or aeration.
“We bought all the gear to do this aquaculture which we will now either sell or move to a site in a region with a friendly council who understand.
“Our alternatives are to submit a new plan or find another site – obviously well outside the Fraser Coast.”
On Wednesday Mr Penrose addressed the councillors, outlining his disaster.
“They said nothing,” he said.
The Chronicle asked the council for a response yesterday but the officer involved cannot be contacted until later today.