THE Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has called for an inquiry into Moyne Shire Council’s actions regarding approval of ACE Radio towers on a Purnim farm.
VFF president Peter Tuohey called the council’s actions illegal, siding with farmer John Howard and claiming the shire had “verbally amended” ACE Radio’s planning permit to build two radio towers on neighbouring land.
Moyne Shire Council is convinced the matter is finished, with a spokesman saying a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) decision from April had closed the issue.
“It’s over,” the spokesman said. “Our feeling is that we’ve gone through VCAT and abided by everything.”
The VCAT hearing found that ACE Radio had “carried out all actions required of it”.
But Mr Howard and VFF president Peter Tuohey believe the matter is far from over.
“In 2006, Moyne council (gave) ACE Radio verbal approval to double the size of radio towers and build them 126m closer to John Howard’s home,” Mr Tuohey said in a press release.
The release also stated that “under Victorian planning legislation it is illegal to verbally grant changes to a planning permit”.
“Mr Howard wasn’t even notified at the time of the changes,” Mr Tuohey said.
He said it was time the matter was set right, calling it “one of the state’s longest-running rural planning disputes”.
“We’ve had politicians, past and present calling for a local government inquiry into Moyne council’s actions,” Mr Tuohey said.
He referred to a call by Liberal MP Simon Ramsay in 2011 for his Coalition colleague and local government minister Jeanette Powell to take action against the council.
Mr Howard welcomed the VFF’s action and said it was “the start of justice”.
“Justice has so far been denied,” he said.
Mr Howard said it was bewildering that council had been allowed to act in such a manner and for VCAT to then issue a planning permit.
Mr Howard said he abandoned the property three years ago because it was “unlivable”.
Today Tonight aired Mr Howard’s story in February, claiming the long-running battle had cost him more than a million dollars and that his health had improved since moving off the property.
The issue began in 2005 when the shire’s planning officer Russell Guest reportedly gave verbal approval for ACE Radio to move its two transmitter towers closer to Mr Howard’s house and to make them taller.
Mr Howard lost appeals in VCAT and the Supreme Court but vowed to continue his fight.
The VFF release described the impact on Mr Howard and his family as “devastating”, saying the radio towers caused interference on phone, fax, internet and television lines.