By Natalee Kerr
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition urging the Surf Coast Shire to reject plans for a $9 million sheep dairy farm at Inverleigh, according to activists fighting the proposal.
International animal rights group PETA initiated the petition, citing concerns the farm would be “cruel and environmentally damaging”.
The farm would house 6000 lactating ewes whose milk would mostly be processed into powdered products, planning documents have revealed.
PETA raised concerns about the sheep’s welfare, alleging the livestock would be subject to “intense suffering”.
Residents near the proposed farm site had also expressed concerns about environmental, waste and water management issues, PETA said.
“For the sake of animals as well as to honour its commitment to tackling the climate crisis, the council must say no to this monstrous proposal,” a PETA spokesperson said.
The proposal complies with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for sheep, the planning application reads.
If approved, the project would operate on the Murnong Farm, trading as Australian Sheep Dairy Company.
The land is zoned for farming under Surf Coast Shire’s planning scheme but the dairy needs a permit for “intensive animal production”, according to planning documents.
“The scheme does not recognise intensive sheep production or a sheep dairy,” the documents explain.
“There are no planning codes for sheep dairies or housing lactating ewes as they are not very common across Victoria or Australia.”
The project would provide commercial scale to Australia’s boutique sheep milk industry and create jobs, the planning documents say.
“Demand for sheep milk products in Australia and the world is increasing. There are about eight commercial sheep dairy farms in Australia producing about 500,000 litres of milk per year.
“The development will provide employment for four full-time stockpersons, part-time and six casual milkers on site.”
Submissions on the proposal to Surf Coast Shire closed yesterday.