Our say | Puppy farm critics are barking up the wrong tree

ARE all submissions created equally?

That could be a question for Bathurst councillors when they finally make a decision on a proposed dog breeding facility planned for Fosters Valley.

Fosters Valley Pty Ltd has lodged a development application to build an $841,000 breeding facility at 1557 Rockley Road, about 25 kilometres south of Bathurst.

Proponents say the facility will be an exemplar for the industry, and will even bring people to the Bathurst region for training workshops.

Not surprisingly, opponents see it very differently.

Animal welfare groups have pejoratively labelled the proposal a “puppy farm” and people from across the nation have begun lobbying Bathurst Regional Council in a bid to ensure it does not go ahead.

To that end, council has so far received 37 written submissions on the proposal and all of them are against it.

The issue for councillors, however, is that the vast majority of those submissions neither come from people living within the Bathurst region, nor address genuine planning concerns.

Just two of the objectors to provide written submissions have listed home addresses from within the region, and both live close to the proposed facility.

And their submissions are the only objections that raise relevant concerns including effluent run-off and potential noise issues from the development, so you would hope councillors would naturally give their submissions careful consideration.

But where does that leave the other 30-odd objectors?

This DA will not be approved or rejected on the basis that council does or does not like the idea of a dog breeding facility – or puppy farm, if you prefer – within the region.

The reality is, the proposed use of the land is allowed under Bathurst planning rules and so the only chance to knock it back will be if council determines it fails on the detail.

The people who stand to be most impacted by the facility – those neighbours living near the site – seem to appreciate that and have crafted their responses with planning concerns in mind.

But objectors from outside the region who simply want to see no new breeding facilities have been much less nuanced in their responses, attempting to convince councillors to think with their hearts rather than head.

Simply, they’re barking up the wrong tree.