At the VCAT hearing we were pleased to be able to present our case and have it assessed impartially.
We are also pleased with the decision by senior VCAT member Anthony Liston to grant us a permit to allow the construction of two pigeon lofts at 60 Mardon Drive after his thorough investigation of the facts, concerns and issues in regard to our application and pigeon racing generally.
We feel it was unfortunate that prior to this hearing a negative view of pigeon racing was circulated in the community via flyers and petitions.
Many people in the community may be unaware that Horsham Rural City Council planning sub-committee made a recommendation to council that we be granted a permit.
As part of the process of assessing our application, three planning committee members plus the planning department manager and the statutory town planner inspected our current loft and were satisfied with our application on planning grounds.
One week later, council chose to refuse our application.
We understand that residents will have concerns and wish to state that Brian has kept and raced pigeons from lofts in town for 45 years.
In all of those years we have never received an objection from a neighbour.
Pigeon racing is a hobby which has been enjoyed by many in Horsham since the Horsham Homing Club began in 1917.
In relation to the various concerns raised at the hearing the VCAT senior member Tony Liston noted the following in his report:
Racing pigeons are bred for their racing ability and are strictly managed and are quite different to the feral pigeons seen around public buildings.
Racing pigeons are released for exercise with an empty bowel and do not defecate outside the loft on a neighbour’s property or the surrounding environment.
Racing pigeons promptly return to the loft after exercise or a race because they know they will be fed when they return.
Racing pigeon owners regularly clean their lofts to ensure health and fitness of the birds.
Pigeons make a soft cooing sound. In his report the VCAT member, while inspecting our current loft, compared the sound of the pigeons to the call of a pair of magpies 50 metres away by the Wimmera River by saying, ‘Lovely though this magpie birdsong was, the volume and intrusiveness of their calling was orders of magnitude greater than that of the pigeons’.
The keeping of racing pigeons will not adversely affect the Wimmera River. The VCAT member stated in his report, ‘In my view there was no evidence which establishes a mechanism by which environmental harm can occur’.
That the keeping of racing pigeons in a residential backyard creates no more inconvenience to neighbours than many ordinary events of urban life such as ‘small children playing in a swimming pool, backyard cricket, teenagers and their music, lawn-mowing etc’.
In relation to neighbours who suffer from asthma the VCAT member concluded that, ‘There is no evidence that the presence of a pigeon loft is likely to be an asthma risk to residents of neighbouring properties’.
The VCAT member attached various conditions to the granting of a permit which we are happy to abide by. They are essentially practices by which Brian currently manages his loft.
A full report of the VCAT hearing decision can be accessed via a link at the VCAT website.
Brian and Robyn Watts