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« Oxburgh transcript | Main | George Monbiot: scrubbing the record clean »
Saturday
Sep182010

Read...

...this.

This is a family with four young children, who ran a profitable business; they filled in every form and ticked every box. They have broken no laws, and there are no outstanding environmental notices, but yet, they came to Western Australia with their life savings and they are losing everything.

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Reader Comments (85)

I donated to them.

OT but this bureaucracy/environmentalism/political correctness gone mad reminds me of a recent conversation with a relative (husband and wife dentists):

Exhausting. Yet another raft of new regulations to abide by. Policies and procedures. Providing "evidence of inclusivity and promotion of human rights". What happened to just filling the teeth? They want to charge about £1000 for us to register with this new body - same as regulates old peoples homes. No choice, we will be practising illegally without it. Not finalised the fee, just put in our bank details and they will take what they want. What about MY human rights? ** still at work painting (Saturday evening) - in case some jumped up dental nurse cum "assessor" runs her fingers along the skirting board. They want us to fit "thermostatic taps" in case we burn ourselves. The plumber says they have to put them in old peoples homes, so none of the old dears gets a hot bath. Which is why they scream if they are offerred a bath. Not liking luke warm water. How do we prove "equal access"? I was treating a black transvestite not long ago. I can hardly ask him/her to give me a reference! Simply treating others as you would wish to be treated is no longer enough. But I suspect writing some poxy policy stating that is what we do will be ok. I am having to get ** CRB checked (Criminal Records Bureau). I have to countersign that it is a true copy of his (our?) gas bill. And before I can be registered as suitable to ask for a CRB check to be done I have to produce a "Policy for the employment of ex-offenders" Would be funny if it was not putting me into an early grave. I drove all the way to **** (expletive deleted) **** to sort this out last week. Waited **** (expletive deleted) ages for them to get out of a meeting. All they did was two photocopies that I could have done at home. And the place stank of fish. And they had "Gold Level Clean Air " plaque on the wall.

Enough said. I hope she doesn't visit this site.

Sep 18, 2010 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonymusforthis

I saw this at WUWT and donated there, utterly disgusting treatment.

Great rant anon

Sep 18, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete

Yep, agreed, everyone donate, even if it is only a little.

Sep 18, 2010 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I donated.
Good luck to them

Sep 18, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMRPKW

Seen something similar in another state.
Sniff test used by Govt Dept VS $100,000 smell testing by specialist lab.
Govt dept happily would always accept sniff test(from public servant) and refused the lab report from independent contractor.
Anti science lie this happens all the time now..green groups are trying to stop as many forms of agricultural practises as possible..now they are pushing for a "carbon tax."

Sep 19, 2010 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermike

Donated. This is nuts, bureaucracy gone mad, and a sad demonstration of where 'green' jobs will come from. Regulating other people out of useful and productive ones. Jo's site has a link to some objections from locals, the most bizarre being the local agricultural college complaing about the smell of livestock farming. I get the feeling some of their graduates are going to be in for a shock, if they ever graduate.

Sep 19, 2010 at 12:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I'm based in Perth Western Australia, my daughter's boyfriend lives in Narrogin, I've done quite a few private microclimate studies for noxious gas releases in the State - to gain EPA/DEC approval. I've also been selected as a community 'sniff tester' for a nearby sewerage plant - before and after scrubbing equipment was installed. So you could say I'm pretty much across the issues.

The whole story sounds a bit complex, and to be frank, Jo Nova has an agenda or three which doesn't provide for clarity in reporting.

A few facts to help understanding:

You can see the site on Google Maps - just enter Narrogin in the search. The site appears to be next to some geometric tree plantings about 5km SSW of the town.

The wind roses for Narrogin can be found at http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_010614.shtml

From these it seems about 25% of 3pm readings come from the South/South-West. A bit less for the 9am readings. (Wind roses point in the direction the wind comes from - not flows to)

The feedlot will be a diffuse ground level source with very little vertical lift. This means that the gases will flow along the ground and dissapate more slowly than if they were vented higher. The methane component will have natural buoyancy due to its density, but the smells won't.

From my experience I wouldn't expect a huge amount of dissipation in 5km - but it would depend a lot on wind-speed and turbulence. I would expect low-speed South/South-West winds in the morning to be most problematic.

For the approval of the feed-lot I would have expected at least a desk-study on odour by the EPA. If not a formal measurement programme and computer modelling - as I used to do all the time on subjects as disparate as uranium mine radon gas release, power station SO2 release, and not that far at all froom Narrogin, a charcoal plant for feed to a silicon smelter.

If the study wasn't done then that would be a fault of the DEC at time of licensing. If it was done then it appears to have been faulty - again a problem for the department. I can't say for certain what was or wasn't done as the reporting is a bit flaky.

As I alluded to before, there is a well established procedure to use community noses to determine the extent and strength of odour. You simply select a hundred or so people in the target area, give them a note-book and get them to record every time they smell something. They should probably be taken to the source and given a good whiff of the source - in this case both the piggery and the feed-lot. Using this will quickly establish the extent of the problem - and weed out false reports from those with an agenda. I would have expected this to be done as well.

I'll ask the daughter's boyfriend about the smell. He's a good candidate as he's a greenie :-)

Thinking about the siting I'd have to say that it wasn't well thought out. Another 5 or 10 k out of town would have been better.

Finally, as an example of how smells can be ignored, odour is also an issue in the Port of Fremantle. There has been a very large live-sheep trade and the residents of Fremantle know for certain when a sheep carrier is in town. The stench is nearly unbearable as the ships are less than a kilometre from town centre. All the access routes carrying truck after truck of sheep are stunk out. The EPA/DEC know this perfectly well and consider that the economic advantage outweighs to effect on the townsfolk.

Sep 19, 2010 at 1:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

I've done a bit more research.

The activism against the feedlot is lead by one Karren Gow of the Narrogin Environmental Action Team Inc. Mrs Gow lives within 1 km of the feedlot - due North. So I would expect her to be rather cranky.

There is a lot of material on the saga, including published decisions by the relevant Minister. Specifically - the most recent decision is http://portal.environment.wa.gov.au/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/OAC/ADMIN_CONTENT/DECISION_SUMMARIES/2010/024-10_MINISTER%27S%20APPEAL%20DETERMINATION.PDF

As I suggested earlier, the story has a lot of back-story. The 'beat-up' by Jo Nova follows a pattern she has established over the years for purely political purposes. The theme she is pushing is 'noble farmer disenfranchised by evil Greeny'.

This case is exactly the right sort of material to exploit.

The reality is that this feedlot is a bit close to town. However, the ( very ) near neighbour is mighty annoyed and has engineered a whole lot of schemes to shut the feedlot down. This has involved the local environmental action group amongst others. This has resulted in a bunch of complaints through the channels up to and including the Minister.

From what I can see the conditions applied are possibly reasonable - make your own interpretation of the above decision. But I note that the local Shire is not very unhappy.

The real story should be 'local resident is pissed off with neighbour's feedlot and has used all available avenues to shut it down'. The involvement of the Greenies and the Government are simply weapons in the fight.

The use and abuse of this story by Jo Nova is unprincipled and in the end will contaminate those who heed her unquestioningly.

Sep 19, 2010 at 6:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Jerry - thanks for the research and back story. I must say when I saw this on Watts Up I thought of polar bear stories - it seemed emotional levers were being pulled. Just for completeness please can you say a bit more about your reasons for following Jo Nova?

Sep 19, 2010 at 7:32 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

not banned yet

Rather than following Jo Nova I avoid her at all costs. She is based in my town and has a small but vocal following. In my view she has an approach that is totally partisan and wilfully misuses facts at her convenience.

Her audience appears to include many cranks, both local and US based.

Sep 19, 2010 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Jerry, I don't think anybody gets banned here...for providing information, even if your opinions may be biased strongly by making a living from sniff testing.

I also can't follow your critics of Jo Nova as you did not substantiate this with any facts.

But from my perspective from a far away country it is outrageous to shut down agricultural operations in RURAL communities just because they smell. Here in Europe, town kids would be happy to be able to see farm animals, and for a rural community this looks like a collapse of traditional values and community spirit.

Therefore, I would suggest that this farmland should be used in the future for a processing centre for asylum seekers. That shouldn't smell and would also fit perfectly the Greens agenda.

Sep 19, 2010 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

Jerry,

Lots of if's, buts, maybe's and possibly's in your posts.

The story here isn't about a pissed off neighbour. No, the real story here is how a green fundamentalist has hijacked the political process to shut a business down that they didn't approve of!

As for Jo nova, I suspect your dislike of her comes more from the inconvenient stories she posts on the religion of Mann Made Global Warming (tm). After all I'm pretty sure Jo isn't engaged in a dirty tricks campaign to get a local business she has the hump with closed down because it might smell a bit too much like real life.

Mailman

Sep 19, 2010 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Mailman & Manfred

Jo Nova has a history in this. For instance the cause celebre of Peter Spencer - who was "losing his farm due to environmental legislation". In fact he was deeply in debt and in the middle of a nasty legal fight with his relatives who actually owned the farm. That cause suddenly fell quiet when the real facts emerged and Mr Spencer's mental medical conditions became apparent.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very anti-green. I just want to play by Queensberry rules rather than the unpleasant politicisation we see in some of the older colonies.

Sep 19, 2010 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Jerry, you seemed to ignore some of the other details pointed out, like the pig farm that was already extant neighbouring the feedlot. Or the way complaints rose as headcount fell and funding to the local environmental group increased. Funding from the EPA, which seems to have screwed up the licence very badly. More on that here-

http://joannenova.com.au/2010/07/smell-that-evidence/

where you may see some other financial interests at work, like the Gow's request to rezone land near the farm from agricultural to presumably allow housing development-

Mr & Mrs Gow have provided a land capability assessment in support of their application.
The assessment conducted by Landform Research concludes that there is no environmental
reason to preclude the subdivision of Lot 2 into three or four lots, subject to appropriate
management of the potential environmental and geographical issues. Their intention is to
subdivide two blocks of an approximate size of 5 to 6 acres at a later stage.

Australia's 'tree changers' need des res's after all to live out their idea of idyllic rural lifestyles. Livestock farming isn't exactly new to Narrogin though.

The complaint from Narrogin Agricultural College also follows the money. Big local employer with 60 FT employees and 200 more who reside or work there-

http://narroginlibrary.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/neighbour-presentations.pdf

where they explain they've 'procurred', which presumably means 'borrowed' AU$14m to upgrade or expand residential accomodation and plan another AU$8m investment in a trade training centre. But enrollment is falling and being blamed on the odour. I'd suggest prospective students put off by farm smells may not have been cut out to become farmers. They also make a comment about not being able to close older residential accommodation 'air tight', which suggests they may not be the safest people to build new accommodation.

An alternative explanation for declining student numbers may of course be the way Australia seems to be treating it's farmers.

Sep 19, 2010 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I’m sure its nothing to do with the members of the adjacent Golf Course.

Sep 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

Atomic Hairdryer

I was looking forward to some verbal jousting, but you seem to have made most of my points for me.

It's not about the Greens it's about parochial interests.

For further info, Mrs Gow is into the sport of eventing - so I guess a few super-expensive warmbloods on her hobby farm. The Narrogin agricultural college is next door to her and is in stink range.

Standing back - it may well be better for all concerned to move a few km down the road. After all it's only a feedlot. I.e. a bit of plant and machinery and some ground-works. I'd guess a low number of millions which should - by rights - be paid for by the Government as they allowed the proposed works at that location.

The other thing to consider is that the feedlot is a big business. $10's of millions per year turnover and 24+ employees. On a moral ground, setting up such a big business should have included a proper business plan with allowance for expected risks. Perhaps that was done but the risks increased?

Sep 19, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Jerry,
Bunk.
A farm operation can and will smell.
If you don't like the smell, don't live in the country.
That a farm's smell has reached the level of government minister is evidence of how insane enviro extremists are, not of how lovely the process is.
As to the sheep ships- when the enviro-extremists succeed in shutting down and important piece of the business that keeps the port open, what will replace the commerce in Freemantle, and what will the sheep ranchers do instead?

Sep 19, 2010 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hunter

Yeah - farms smell. The problem is that the the major complainers are dude ranchers with a strong vested interest.

Fremantle? It will survive very nicely in its main business of importing new goods from China.

The sheep business is a major pain. Every time a new sheep ship rolls up the price of lamb in the supermarket trebles. Even worse, I can't buy mutton for love nor money.

Sep 19, 2010 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Thanks for the insight, Jerry.

Sep 19, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Jerry,
We are having this problem in the US as well.
faux-farmers who learned about farms and ranches on TV or by watching Disney are disappointed when Goosey Lucy and Ducky wucky are not strolling around arm in arm in the farm yard, and cannot believe the sweet critters are not cooperating well, much less why they have the bad manners to smell.
But we have kept (so far) the EPA out of most farming situations.
I am not sure why you have such antipathy to Jo Nova, but I think her fundamental take on this is spot on: An agrarian operation is being destroyed by the highest levels of government due to extremsits fabricating ridiculous regulations and applications of those regulations.
And the family that is being dispossessed by the extremists leading this attack are suffering in ways that would merit a Dickens novel.

Sep 19, 2010 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Jo Nova's approach has always impressed me for being open to debate, for having a clear respect for good data and associated reasoning, and for displaying a fine, healthy, wholesome, and sometimes hard-hitting vigour. I think she deserves a great deal of respect, and I follow her site with great interest. I think Jerry's remarks in his series of postings are somewhat sly, speculative, insubstantial, and poorly written in comparison. I think he has a lot to learn from Jo, and should be more generous about her.

Sep 19, 2010 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Jerry..

The green part I think comes from the relationship between NEAT and eco-activist groups like the EDO, who're helping shut down the feedlot. If that happens, it looks like it will impact the rest of Narrogin to the tune of AU$10m+ p.a. The Gow's equestrian centre and dressage clinics may survive, the rest of the town may suffer. Being somewhat evil, I also wonder if anyone's done any odour testing around their stables?

On a moral ground, setting up such a big business should have included a proper business plan with allowance for expected risks. Perhaps that was done but the risks increased?

That seems to be the biggest disgrace. Looks like permission was given for the feedlot based on a capacity of 10k head of cattle. Subsequently licence conditions seem to have been messed around by DEC with licences being issued late and retrospectively changing the initial permissions. I doubt many business plans can incorporate that much uncertainty. DEC also seem to be altering the original licence conditions post the Thompsons court appeal. Having lost that, they're in an odd position of not being able to appeal any new conditions, which seems very unjust. I'm not sure why anyone would consider trying to operate any similar business in Australia if licences are only issued for 1-2 years and can be varied at whim. Given likely investment needed, I'd have thought 5 or 10 year licences would be needed to make business plans viable. The submissions from other farmers in the area pretty much make that point-

http://narroginlibrary.wordpress.com/whats-on/community-stuff/

with the need to have a decent capacity to make the business viable. Given the way the Thompsons try and keep business local, I'd have thought the Ag college would support this as a model of sustainable agriculture. Local feed reducing carbon footprints, manure being recycled onto neighbour's farms to reduce chemical usage. Of course the college originally did support it, and viewed it as a benefit to them having a working feedlot on the doorstep originally. Then they seem to have had a change of head and heart.

Moving may be an option, assuming land's available and they're not going to run into the same issues with DEC. Suing them for compensation and damages may be a more viable alternative to get them to buck their ideas up and preventing this kind of situation happening again.

Sep 19, 2010 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

This story is being exploited by JoNova, I must say that I'm a little disappointed at the publicity it is receiving both here and at wattsupwiththat; the latter, a little less surprised as I find Anthony's blog to be a bit of a political soapbox as well.

To be honest, I don't know the entire story and the council's argument may have some merit but it's bound to be much more complicated than greenie vs the little guy. The fact that people are naively donating from other countries because it pulls at the heart strings is a little disconcerting.

Look, I might be wrong about this but it's just a hunch. This sort of thing might damage this blog's reputation.

Sep 19, 2010 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSamG

ain't life a bitch?I had a teacher and she used to told this : life is one glass full of shit, but on top of it, is a tin layer of honey, when you eat all the honey you are left with a bitter truth....

internet marketing online

Sep 19, 2010 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred

Atomic Hairdryer

Without being too presumptuous (I hope) I suspect we are reading from the same page.

I liked your link to http://narroginlibrary.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/farmer-presentations.pdf with the Farmer Presentations. Especially the reference to Fremantle odour.

My personal experience with the EPA/DEC is not good. But I also think that the systems in place provide a mechanism for justice. Or at least a visible account of the justice process.

My view is that whatever the actual rights and wrongs, the process is being hijacked in a political process to lay blame on the greenies. From your research it is clear the EDO helps in the anti-case, but my view is that it is opportunistic rather causative.

At the heart it is a local dispute driven by part-time farmers for their own interests - notwithstanding the Ag college who will gain from the elimination of the feed-lot. The inclusion of Green advocates is a political move. The inclusion of Jo Nova is a countering political move. But at the resolution no-one will have won.

Sep 19, 2010 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Jerry,

From what I can see, the greens kind of started it, based on this and some other background research-

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/11/death-of-a-feedlot-operator/

In June 2008, when the global warming scare was in full swing, Matt attended a beef industry meeting which talked about the cattle industry’s contribution to global warming. He expressed doubt in that meeting about the veracity of global warming and handed out some rational literature.

Not long thereafter, the West Australian Environmental Defenders Office took an interest in complaints by Narrogin greenies against the Thompsons’ feedlot.

So whether that put the Thompsons on the EDO's radar, and whether they decided to make an example of him. One of the EDO's newsletters shows a meeting between them and NEAT in Nov '07 though. So I agree that the issue is being hijacked, and Jo's rightly providing some counter PR and support.

I guess the crux of it is the contracts, and whether they've been handled correctly and in good faith. Approved plan was phased up to 15k head, with intial 10k licence. Licence renewal varied that to 6k. Appeal on that variation failed with no further right of appeal, despite there having been further revisions to the licence. If this is allowed to happen, seems like any Australian farmer (or other business) is at risk. The process seems to have dragged on a while with the Thompsons doing everything they can to try and comply with changes imposed on them but now it's come to crunch time with the risk of administration. Stopping that I guess is the priority, otherwise it'll be over for the Thompsons.

One possible solution is if the Ag college is willing to work with the Thompsons on odour control and do some joint R&D. There may be something patentable in that, or just beneficial to the local community and/or other farmers. McDougall in the Farmer's submission makes that point, but NIMBY positions may be too entrenched to make that viable.

There's also some interesting comments in these minutes-

http://narroginlibrary.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/microsoft-word-minutes-of-24th-july.pdf

where it looks like a more senior DEC person has been brought in who recognises some of their mistakes and suggests some ways forward, but that may be too little, too late.

Sep 19, 2010 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer

This is where my concern about spin kicks in. Your quoted item about WAEDO is pure Jo Nova. It sounds plausible and is definitly emotive.

It may be better to research the prior complaint process.

I've no doubt that the WAEDO is involved. What is likely is that the original complainants found an easy path via WAEDO after a certain lack of success. What is debatable is whether the WAEDO had any effect whatsoever. The present Government is certainly not greenly disposed and the prior Government was pretty pragmatic.

AH: I have to say that you are doing a good job on due diligence. You have researched and exposed more information than I was aware of and you have been quite fair and open. I appreciate this approach rather than the one-liner judgements that are so often expressed.

Sep 19, 2010 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Jerry, check the WUWT comment from Janet Thompson @ September 19, 2010 at 2:41 am

She explains some more about the timelines, and EDO's involvement-

Matt spoke out publicly against greenhouse gases being included in the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) reporting in Australia in May 2007 (I think it was the 17th). That, we believe, is when the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) got involved. They came to Narrogin and got the local handful of people opposed to us organised – got them incorporated and taught them how to use the legal system to gum up the works.

But also pointed out the complainants were complaining about the existing pig farm and had objected to the feedlot from the outset. EDO just seems to have organised and guided them, which may explain why some of the complainant's submissions appear similar, ie they were coached. She also mentions this-

We have an email that we got through the second FOI request (they had succeeded in hiding it the first time!) in which an NPI employee writes to our regulator and says, “Heads up, this guy’s causing trouble.” (I paraphrase.)

Which would be useful to see in it's entirety, and could prove very useful if they take legal action against DEC. Somehow, I don't think Narrogin's going to come out of this well, and the agricultural college could have future enrollment problems if it gets the reputation as the farming college that shuts down farmers. Still, if it gets it's trade school, perhaps it can reinvent itself offering courses on landscape gardening for the 'tree changers' seeking their rural ideal.

Sep 19, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Note how the oh-so-helpful-and sincere offer the move on, nothing to see dodge and Jo Nova's a .....witch for publicizing it anyway.

Sep 19, 2010 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I donated some Yankee dollars.

It is soooooo nice to be insulted on a fine Sunday morning by some people (like Jerry) who disagree with what charities I decide to donate my money too. What the heck, they (Jerry) even threw in some ad homs for good measure at Jo Nova who is helping out some of her fellow Australians in need.

Would Jerry have an alternate suggestion about who we should give our money to?

John

Sep 19, 2010 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

I go a lot by instinct. I trust the Bishop, Anthony Watts, Steve McIntyre, Jeff Id and Jo Nova (and others). They all show curtesy and decency and tolerance and persistence; and not doing it for the money. Of course I could be wrong about all of them; but how do you know who to trust these days? I certainly don't trust those with a vested interest and ... no I won't say more.

Sep 19, 2010 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Jerry, I can't help thinking that while your first post on this subject had a semblance of balance, you have actually brought your own bias to the debate. I say this simply because you have proposed (even as 'possible'), explanations which you do not know as fact. Perhaps you were deliberately trying to hide your bias, or perhaps it is subconscious. The biggest factor is your denigration of Jo Nova.

Jo has indeed taken a sceptical viewpoint towards the climate alarmists. Jo does occasionally write with a cynical tone, but it is always supported by referenced fact. Jo is a scientist herself and at one stage was a member of the Australian Greens party. So she should not be assumed to be a sceptic shrill or a 'climate denier'.

You mention the issue about Peter Spencer. Again there was plenty of innuendo, but little fact from you. Many should know that by the stroke of a pen the Australian Government introduced legislation to ban farmers from clearing land they owned. This applied even if it was land which had been previously cleared but had some regrowth as it had been un-cropped or grazed for years. There was no compensation paid for this.

It is true Peter Spencer had a significant debt on his farm and that the bank had threatened to foreclose. Faced with this prospect a family member member lent Spencer the money to pay the bank out. The fact Spencer was happy to not correct the assumption that his farm debt was with a bank is neither here nor there with regards to his stand about farmers rights to utilise the land they own. If governments wish to resume land for roads or railways, though they have the capacity to do so compulsorily, they must pay compensation. The Australian government is currently buying water rights off farmers in the Murray Darling Basins - they are not compulsorily acquiring them or simply cancelling them.

Peter Spencer was standing up for his rights as an owner of the farm, Jo Nova was supporting that right because it was taken away by the Government in the name of climate change policy. Under the Kyoto Protocol, countries could claim CO2 emission reduction credits for 'locking up' land. It was John Howard's way of meeting the Kyoto targets even though he had not signed up to the agreement.

The reason Peter Spencer has gone quiet is not that there is anything suspect about his claims, it is that the High Court agreed that the Government didn't necessarily have the right to deny him use of his land and on 2nd September he was granted leave to appeal the previous courts decision on the matter. Thus it would seem Peter Spencer's campaign, and Jo Nova's support had a great deal of legal validity which has been confirmed by the High Court of Australia.

With regards the Thompson's situation with their feedlot in Narrogin, others here have already substantiated their predicament since your initial and subsequent posts. They have also answered your assumption that perhaps they didn't have a proper business plan or adequate budget for some foreseeable problems.

The Thompson's approach to the business had been well planned and professional. The fact is, many large businesses like that are established with substantial borrowings. In their case millions of dollars. To get the bank finance you have to provide detailed business plans and evidence that you will get all necessary approvals and licences. Even then, the bank doesn't release funds until you require it at each stage. However, once they provide the funds, interest starts accruing.

The Thompsons have been hamstrung in their business as the licence conditions were changed and restrictions applied. They have been made to pay for services in advance (including water allocations), which they then haven't been able to use because of the changes imposed on them.

I do not know the Thompsons personally. I do know people who live in Narrogin who are supportive of the Feedlot and the Thompsons. I became aware of their plight some time ago and have corresponded with the Minister for Environment the Hon Donna Faragher. Her correspondence confirms many of the facts stated in Jo Nova's blogsite. It also confirms that the key issue is odours. The minister also confirmed that an odour survey had been conducted in 2007 which did not result in any licence amendments. The minister wrote about licence amendments in January 2009 after considering appeals lodged against the licence by interested parties. She also established a 'Local Community Consultative Committee' at the time to advised DEC on how the feedlot had met the new licence conditions (which had reduced the original phased capacity from 15,000 head to a phased capacity of 10,000 head with various tests required at 6,000 head).

On 31 July 2009 DEC approved the feedlot's amended waste management plan and issued an amended licence confirming the phased capacity up to 10,000 head. This licence was to expire on 31 March 2010. The feedlot applied for and were granted a 5 year licence on 8 March 2010 with some further new terms introduced. This was still appealed against by the 'complainers' and another amended licence was issued on 30 July 2010 which added further obligations for specialist outside assessments to "assist Narrogin Beef Producers (the feedlot) to identify measures to manage its impact on nearby residences." This latest obligation, and the obligation to manage "odour such that it does not unreasonably interfere with others amenity", mean that the Thompsons still have little certainty about whether they will be able to continue operating and if so at what level.

So there is no doubt the Thompsons had detailed, extensive plans approved and licence issued before the commitment of capital. Satisfactory odour tests were established in 2007 by the DEC. Subsequently there appears to have been a small campaign of complaints and formal appeals against the feedlot's licence. The West Australian Environmental Defenders Office actually distributed appeal forms throughout the community. Since then there have been a series of licence adjustments which have severely restricted the feedlot business activities and taken away any certainty.

If the Feedlot's original plans were not going to meet acceptable standards, then they should never have been issued a licence and then the Thompsons would not have committed the capital. If the Feedlot's standards were acceptable and they met those standards, then any new standards, if justified, should allow a reasonable time for implementation, but should not have restricted the capacity of the feedlot below the original licence even in the short term.

Sep 19, 2010 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaymez

Back from the epic battles of the the Fomorii and Tuatha Dé Danaan in mythical Érieann to find this battle here. Interesting. Since I am typed out of the present installment of creative writing, I thought I would put my two euros in here.

The article in WUWT fails my smell test when I read it. It looks like something Bob Ward would write. Gut reaction, but when I have that sort of reaction, I dig deeper. That is why I was interested in what Jerry who is living in the middle of all this had to say.

Now I must admit Australia has lurched well over to the left with its banning of all guns, with very, very few exception, as well as the abortive 40% tax on exported mineral goods (damn near shut down its mining economy -- I do read Bloomberg.com everyday). And there are the Greens, who are really Watermelons. Given them in the mix, anything could be happening.

Just go to Ireland and look at the stupidity being committed in the Dàil because all four Green TD members are also ministers (I might have that wrong, but I believe it is the case) but they do control the Dàil because they are in a coalition with Fianna Fáil. And if they want something, anything, they threaten to leave the coalition. FF folds every time. This is almost the same nightmare you Brits faced in your last elections.

So, it might be so.

However, I tend to believe Jerry, there must be a good deal more behind all this than is being told.

My suggestion is dig deeper. It may be a hockey stick being sold.

Sep 19, 2010 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

The reason I donated is that this family has four days - four! - to pay up everything, else the bank will take it away. They are in this situation because of the WA bureaucracy, the shenanigans with the changes in licensing, all aggravated by certain groups.
It was very interesting to see the complaints go up after Mr Thomson had made a remark regarding GHGs.

Basically, there is no time to wait until everything is sorted to the satisfaction of the eco-groups and the bureaucracy, the family needs some money now, to be able to at least look after their kids.

There simply isn't the time to ponder all sides while this family, for no fault of their own, are being dispossessed. So yeah, I did donate, because reading this made me [self-deleted] angry. I loathe it when big government and big eco groups trample on people who want to work, for eco-political reasons.

Sep 19, 2010 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

I just saw Jaymez's comments above. He posted while I was composing my comments. Since it is so long I will blockquote the pertinent part:

If the Feedlot's original plans were not going to meet acceptable standards, then they should never have been issued a licence and then the Thompsons would not have committed the capital. If the Feedlot's standards were acceptable and they met those standards, then any new standards, if justified, should allow a reasonable time for implementation, but should not have restricted the capacity of the feedlot below the original licence even in the short term.

Exactly so. In the United States, we have the Grandfather clause, which is what he is pointing to. Of course we also have the First and Second Amendments, which they clearly do not have in Australia, so why not this? I don't know that much about Australian constitutional law, so perhaps someone from down under can explain.

Sep 19, 2010 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Jerry,

There are undoubtedly wheels-within-wheels here, and more than one interpretation of the available facts. Thank you for trying to provide additional information. It is good for this site not to get locked into group-think.

I'll reserve judgement myself until further facts emerge.

Sep 19, 2010 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterslowjoe

@ hunter

"Note how the oh-so-helpful-and sincere offer the move on, nothing to see dodge and Jo Nova's a .....witch for publicizing it anyway."

Funny you should say that...

I sometimes go over to Jo's site as many of the old crew, so to speak, from Jennifer Marohasy's semi defunct blog hang out there. Always got the impression that Jo was quite straight up and letting all put their point of view without censorship.

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

Slightly OT, but this link in the prior Jo Nova case (Peter Spencer) says a lot

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/message-from-peter-spencers-family/story-e6frg6nf-1225817464020

Tellingly, We are devastated with the conspiracy theories, innuendoes and utter rubbish sprouted by some members of news forums and websites declaring to support Peter who clearly know nothing about this situation but have taken whatever they have read at face value, and accepted it as gospel. Peter is an amazing, courageous man. But the loss of his farm is not due to governments, big business or climate change

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Timelines seem important here, and I haven't been able to figure them out.

The basic question, it seems to me, is who got to the area first? Did the feedlot (and the piggery) set up shop in relatively wide open spaces at the time? Did residential settlement expand towards them after that fact? If so, caveat emptor must apply. If you're dumb enough to move in close to a piggery and/or a feedlot, don't complain about them; complain instead about the gene pool you sprang from.

But if the preceding paragraph does not apply, that changes the terms of the debate substantially.

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterWayne Richards

Donated over at Watts site, but felt as I was doing so that I wished I had more info. Thought about it for a little while, and then the thought that the family had just four days to go before eviction kept coming back to me. I even thought about sending my donation to Pakistan relief instead, but then just gave in to my emotions. I thank Jerry for providing a different backstory; still, hope it works out for the family.

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterchopbox

Jerry,
Just because someone claims Jo is not doing things as they like does not make what she is doing wrong, or what they are reporting right.
Your side seems incredibly willing to declare 'conspiracy theory' at the drop of the hat.
Again, I think the pattern is clear: excessive regulation on farmers is putting huge pressure on them.
Enviro-extremists are behind a lot of that pressure.
Just like the brush fire nightmare inflicted on Australia by enviros, the media is more than willing to help minimize their pernicious impact.
That does not mean the impacts were not there.

Sep 20, 2010 at 1:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

But just like the 'brush fire nightmare' inflicted by the enviro's, people ultimately have the choice whether or not to live in the bush. Nothing is that simplistic and in ten-twenty years time, it will happen all over again.

Sep 20, 2010 at 1:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterSamG

Jerry - At some level or levels, the Oz government let the guy buy the land and equipment at great cost to him and then turned around and shut him down, likely as not bankrupting him. That is insanity. Jo Nova is spot on! I imagine you don't see too much government interference in free markets as a problem, but that is exactly the problem here. And I don't care if the laws in effect were passed after he set up his farm. He should have been grandfathered in. Look up and read about "the rule of law" when you have some free time. I doubt you will be able to understand it, but give it a go anyway.

Sep 20, 2010 at 2:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJim

I was rushing to defend Jo Nova but was beaten to it. No more straightforward and clearheaded blogger exists. She and her husband, Dr. David Evans (who actually wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol) were firm believers in AGW until the facts, specifically the lack of the hot spot, persuaded them otherwise. In my book that makes them real scientists, not activists. As Jo says, produce the science and she's open to changing her mind again.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/no-smoking-hot-spot/story-e6frg73o-1111116945238

As someone of the Wattsupwiththat site pointed out, what the Thompsons' situation REALLY smells like is a canary in a coal mine. We are all at risk.

Sep 20, 2010 at 3:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterIren

the road to economic ruin...

18 Sept: UK Telegraph: Britain’s energy policy is in crisis
The Government’s policy on renewable energy is wasteful and counter-productive, says Christopher Booker
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8010926/Britains-energy-policy-is-in-crisis.html

Sep 20, 2010 at 3:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

re:Sep 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM | martyn

I’m sure its nothing to do with the members of the adjacent Golf Course.

----------------------------------------------------
members?..... maybe not, but Mr Peter Gow is listed as a manager of the golf club on racing, gaming and liquor license
http://liquor.reports.rgl.wa.gov.au/liquor/premnameqry.php?txtSuburb=narrogin+golf+club&lbxStatus=%25

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterML

Jerry says "Slightly OT, but this link in the prior Jo Nova case (Peter Spencer) says a lot"

I agree, but just what is "says" might not be clear.
This may throw more light on the case:

"The High Court unanimously declared this morning that the Federal Court was wrong to have thrown out Mr Spencer's case for compensation on the basis he had “no reasonable prospect” of success."

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/legal-affairs/hunger-strike-farmer-peter-spencer-wins-high-court-battle-for-compensation/story-e6frg97x-1225912759920

Sep 20, 2010 at 6:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

SAMG @ Sep 20, 2010 at 1:44 AM

But SamG over on Jo Nova's site you said that you were a "Libertarian"......you know a freedom fighter and all that. Perhaps you should revisit what you said on Jo's site then explain here on this site your ignorance on this subject.

On the other hand, and for what it’s worth, in my opinion I think both you and Jerry are just "Dog-whistlers" for your own cause, which I might add appears to be devoid of the humanities, but don’t let that or free enterprise stand in your way.

As an Australian attempting to engage in free enterprise, I’m sure glad that the Western Australian Government has trained and engaged Jerry, probably on the taxpayer udder, as an expert “Sniffer” of odours………………..that definitely fills a hole in the social order of things and needed plugging.

Sep 20, 2010 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterhide the decline

hide the decline

I said what I said because I was erring on the side of caution. I also said that I might be wrong. Perfectly reasonable. I often sense tribalism and group think on blogs and even I have been guilty of communist take-over theories.
I thought that It was odd that people from abroad were donating to this cause on a whim. A few days ago they knew nothing about it. It is fortuitous for the family in question that the cause of their misfortune is of special interest to Jo Nova et al. I hope it works out for the best, regardless of the hyperbolic nature of her blog.

I respect the plight of skepticism but conservatives left unchallenged are and have been a menace to just about anything that stood in the way of making a buck or preserving the status quo. I neither subscribe to the left or the right and both are as guilty as one another. That's what I meant by my comment. I didn't want you to misconstrue me as an environmental apologist.

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterSamG

Re SamG

But just like the 'brush fire nightmare' inflicted by the enviro's, people ultimately have the choice whether or not to live in the bush. Nothing is that simplistic and in ten-twenty years time, it will happen all over again.

Assuming the land isn't managed correctly, then yes, repeat wildfires are inevitable. So you've built a home in the bush. You've been thinning out trees and clearing scrub to keep the fuel loads down and a reasonable fire break between your house and vegetation. Then along comes some legislation that says you can't clear native vegation, and this kind of thing happens-

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/02/11/weve-lost-two-people-in-my-family-because-you-dickheads-wont-cut-trees-down/

They were labelled law breakers, fined $50,000 and left emotionally and financially drained.

But seven years after the Sheahans bulldozed trees to make a fire break — an act that got them dragged before a magistrate and penalised — they feel vindicated. Their house is one of the few in Reedy Creek, Victoria, still standing.

..Anger at government policies stopping residents from cutting down trees and clearing scrub to protect their properties is already apparent. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” Warwick Spooner told Nillumbik Mayor Bo Bendtsen at a meeting on Tuesday night.

This is new law preventing existing property owners from protecting their properties, supposedly in the interests of protecting 'biodiversity'. Which in typical green fashion ends up doing the opposite given more severe wildfires reduce biodiversity leaving the most fire tolerant species. The VBRC report into their wildfires has some fairly damning comments regarding conflicting 'environmental' policy and safety of life issues-

http://www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/Commission-Reports

These policies also affect farmers and prevent them improving or managing their land, supposedly so the land can act as a CO2 sink helping the Oz goverment meet their emissions quotas, or become part of offset schemes. But the farmers don't benefit because their property rights are usurped by new and pointless legislation. Pointless because it's counterproductive. Leon Ashby's an Oz farmer, had won awards for his land management, now campaigns against property rights being removed.

One of his videos on Youtube shows how he increased yields of feed grass from 50kg/ha to 3,500kg/ha. Grass being C4, it absorbs lots of CO2 but not considered a long term carbon sink unlike trees because grass dies quicker and releases it.. Unless of course the grass is a crop, being harvested and then it regrows, absorbing more CO2. 'Green' Oz policy seems to prefer attempting to store smaller amounts less efficiently in 'native wildlife', then ignoring any offset potential is wasted when that wildlife burns and releases it's carbon back into the atmosphere. So current environmental policy is unproductive, inefficient and eventually counter productive.

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

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