A Northern Rivers blueberry farmer has been fined over the use of a bird scare gun.
A Northern Rivers blueberry farmer has been fined over the use of a bird scare gun. TREVOR VEALE

Blueberry farming company fined over use of bird scare gun

A BLUEBERRY farming company has been penalised after challenging a fine over the disruptive use of a bird scare gun.

Lismore City Council received complaints from Dunoon residents about noise being generated from an LPG-powered sound gun, designed to scare birds.

The gun was being used at a Cowley Rd, Dunoon blueberry farm operated by AAA Horticulture.

The gun was emitting a loud fireworks-like blast every three to five minutes, classified as an "intrusive noise".

The council served the company with an order to take preventative action in June, 2017.

This directive included that they limit use of the gun to a maximum of six shots per hour.

But the council was again fielding complaints about the same behaviour in June last year, and ultimately issued the company with an $8000 fine.

The company appealed this fine, and this went before Lismore Local Court this week.

Magistrate David Heilpern ultimately reduced the fine to $2000 after convicting the company of failing to comply with the council's direction under NSW environmental laws.

But he ordered the company to pay $20,000 of the council's legal costs involved in the proceedings.

In a statement, the council said the blueberries at the farm had since been covered with bird netting.

The council's manager of development and compliance, Peter Jeuken, welcomed the court outcome, saying it was a strong warning for lack of compliance.

"Many residents of the Dunoon community were affected by the use of this device over an extended period of time, and the sentence reflects the lack of an appropriate response by this company to those genuine community concerns," Mr Jeuken said.

"Where noise adversely impacts a whole community, council will take firm action based on the evidence to ensure reasonable amenity is maintained, and people should be aware that council has a 95% success rate in defending its compliance and enforcement actions in court."

The company has until September 13 to pay the council's legal costs.