Couple awaits council decision on planning permit

By Jamieson Salter

Former dairy farmers wishing to develop an embryo transfer facility in Cosgrove have had their plans delayed, as their proposal awaits approval from Greater Shepparton City Council.

Andrew and Tina Paterson from South Gippsland moved to Cosgrove to start their business of preserving cow genetics, in a region where the dairy industry is culling a large number of cows.

“Cows are dropped off here before they're slaughtered,” Mr Paterson said.

``We make them healthy and get them to cycle again, before we artificially inseminate (the cows) and freeze the (resulting) eggs.

“The embryos are stored in nitrogen containers until someone purchases them.”

The Patersons aim to build a shed and yards for the embryo transfer work and a three-bedroom ranch-style dwelling. They aim to occupy the dwelling, and said it was imperative to be present on the property when a cow was in season.

But the couple will face a planning barrier because of the size of the lot.

Greater Shepparton City Council's statutory planning team leader Braydon Aitken said there had been three objections to the proposal.

“According to the guidelines of the Farming Zone, a dwelling requires planning approval if it's under 60 hectares, which is a small lot,” he said.

“Council hasn't made a decision yet and hope to do so in the coming weeks at a development hearings panel.”

The council will assess the suitability of the land use for a dwelling and if it will affect the surrounding farming practices.

Mrs Paterson said she did not understand how her business would have a negative impact on neighbouring farms.

“It hasn't been used as a farming enterprise for 20 years and we want to bring it back to farming,” she said.

The couple purchased the 5 ha property 18 months ago and has been leasing 12 ha of Crown land neighbouring the property under a DELWP grazing lease.

The Patersons are hoping to consolidate the land from four smaller lots into one 5 ha lot, and said the size, location and water availability made the property ideal for their business.

They did not seek advice on the planning request before they purchased the property.

Mr Paterson said they did not expect their agricultural business would put them in conflict with surrounding properties.

The Patersons have fenced their purchased property and have cleared three 12 tonne trucks of rubbish from the Crown land, leading to letters of approval from surrounding neighbours.

“We're going to do whatever it takes,” Mr Paterson said.

The application process began in July last year.