By Luke Voogt
A Bellbrae family faces losing three pet pigs due to the lack of a planning permit despite Surf Coast Shire allowing a large-scale farm without a similar permit.
Kristy Walters and son Beau, 14, questioned during a council meeting why the shire had demanded they get rid of their pigs by next Monday.
The shire issued the family with a notice to comply on July 20 warning they had 14 days to get rid of the pigs, or face fines and possible legal action.
“We got them at the beginning of lockdown for my son, who is passionate about pigs,” a tearful Mrs Walters told the Independent yesterday.
“Getting rid of them would devastate my son, who’s already very, very anxious about the situation.
“We were shocked – we were under the impression we weren’t breaching anything – we’re in a farming zone.
“We feel like we have been singled out because we know of other properties in our area that have pigs.”
Councillor Heather Wellington described the shire demanding a permit from the family to keep the pigs on their three-hectare property as “ridiculous”.
She compared the family’s property to a Mount Duneed farm with hundreds of cattle, which she said the shire had allowed to operate without a planning permit.
“The irony of it is incredible,” she said yesterday.
The shire concluded that the farm was not “intensive” but instead was “grazing animal production”, which is unregulated under the planning scheme.
“I’ve had complaints about people not being able to hang their washing on the line due to the smell,” Cr Wellington said.
Cr Wellington requested information from both the shire and Agriculture Victoria on why the farm was not classed as “intensive” and did not require a permit, but said both organisations handballed her.
On Tuesday night’s meeting she called for independent report on the decision but only Cr James McIntyre supported her motion.
After reading Mrs Walter’s question to council, chief executive officer Keith Baillie said shire officers would re-examine the relevant planning provisions and work with the family for “a solution”.
“There are important biosecurity responsibilities that should be in place for the keeping of pigs,” he said.