Here is a copy of the group submission recently sent in by Friends of the Earth Far North Queensland to Mareeba Shire Council about the proposed cattery in the rainforest. Feel free to use any of the points and text below in your own submission.
For full details about how to have your say -and to see a shorter, sample submission, just click here
The public submission time ends on Wednesday 2 February, so do act now!
21 January 2022
To the assessment manager:
Submission: MCU/21/0022 Application for a Development Permit for Material Change of Use
Animal Keeping (Cattery) 7 Victor Place/ Kuranda Lot 11 on RP861072 Mareeba Shire Council Planning Scheme 2016
Friends of the Earth Far North Queensland is an environmental and social justice group based in Kuranda. We oppose this application for a development permit for a cattery for up to 30 cats and ask for it to be refused on the grounds:
the application is incomplete and fails to address the environmental significance overlay with no required ecological assessment report
it would pose an unacceptable disease risk to both humans and wildlife through potential contamination of soil and water with zoonoses such as toxoplasmosis
it would impact on the amenity of the area due to increased noise and smell.
Incomplete Application Failing to Address the Environmental Significance Overlay
The cattery would be on in the largely rainforested, rural residential area of Top of the Range. This lies to the east of Kuranda in an area rich in wildlife where cassowaries are often sighted. The property in question is in precinct A and is just 4863m2 in area.
As the map above (taken from the current Mareeba Shire Council Planning Scheme) shows, the cattery is also in a Wildlife habitat area (marked with orange hatching) within the environmental significance overlay. However this has not been addressed in the development application and no ecological assessment report has been submitted by the developer despite this being required.
This urgently needs to be addressed before this application can be considered by council.
Disease Risk to Humans and Wildlife
We note that it would be planned to compost the cat faeces and cat litter tray material contaminated with urine in two separate systems. The cat faeces would be scooped out of litter trays and put in compost bins directly placed on the soil surface. It would then be composted using sachets of beneficial bacteria supplied by Biomaster.
An email received on 17 January of this year from Frances Foster of Biomaster states:'
'Beneficial Bacteria will not kill parasites or diseases. You would use an anti bacterial product for that and not put the cat poo into the BioBin whilst administering those medications or worming the cats.' It would also take at least a year to fully decompose.
The cat litter with urine would be composted separately and eventually placed around the property as compost. It is not clear what would happen to waste water from cleaning the enclosures.
Cats can spread many diseases including Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis can affect humans, other mammals such as wallabies and pademelons and birds including potentially cassowaries who are often seen in the area.
Disease Risk to Humans
In humans, toxoplasmosis is a particular problem in those who have a compromised immune system and also pregnant women. It can cause miscarriages and even birth defects in the newborn. Toxoplasmosis is the cat-dependent disease with the greatest human health impact in Australia. The disease is caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii ( T.gondii). People contract the parasite by eating under-cooked meat that is infected with the parasite, or by accidentally consuming a microscopic “oocyst”, which is like an egg, that is shed in the cat’s faeces. Oocysts are environmentally resistant and can be washed or blown around by water and wind, contaminating soil or water.1 T.gondi can survive in moist soil or water for over a year2.
Cats and kitty litters can carry diarrheal diseases that affect humans without any signs affecting the cat. These infections include campylobacter, giardia and cryptosporidium.
While we support waste reduction and composting in general,, we believe this system would be both impractical, unhygienic and unsafe for both the staff who would handle the faeces and nearby residents. In the development application,this risk of disease has not been addressed.
Disease Risk to Wildlife: Toxoplasmosis in Wildlife.
Infection with T. gondii is one of the most common parasitic infections in mammals. In general , marsupials are highly susceptible to it and often the only signs are sudden death or severe illness quickly followed by death. Infection is , as explained above, by ingestion of oocysts from cat faeces and these can persist in water and moist soil for up to a year. There is no effective treatment in marsupials.3 Cassowaries and other birds can also contract toxoplasmosis.4 It is worth noting that there is a seasonal creek on the property, which runs into a permanent creek – and this is known to be platypus habitat.
Other impacts on wildlife
It is likely that the cats would attract more pythons to the area. No mention has been made of this apart from the snake proof fencing being used for enclosures. Would the snakes be relocated -and if so, where?
The proposed cattery for up to 30 cats has the potential to detract from the amenity of nearby residences with:
increased traffic noise- the cattery is situated at the end of a quiet cul de sac and could generate 60 or more vehicle movements a day.
Noise from cats- especially those in the external enclosures and outside recreational space.
It is to be commended that the proponent plans for a negatively ventilated air system will be installed to prevent smell pollution. However the potential for smell from cat faeces and urine remains in the outside areas.
If approved, it could set a precedent for other businesses that would further impact on the amenity and special character of the area.
We ask that council refuses this development permit as the application is incomplete. Also the material change of use, for all the reasons stated above, is not suitable for an ecologically sensitive and rural residential A area, poses disease risks to humans and wildlife and would significantly reduce the amenity of the area.
1Care and Handling of Australian Native Animals Ed. Suzanne J. Hand G. Reddacliff & D. Speilman p.197
2 Dubey JP. A review of toxoplasmosis in wild birds. Vet Parasitol. 2002 Jun 3;106(2):121-53. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4017(02)00034-1. PMID: 12031816.
3 Ref: https://www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/
4 Ref: http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/media/pdf/14/165/143/toxoplasmosis-v7
Friends of the Earth Far North Queensland
c/o 345 Fantin Rd
If you would like to join our mailing list to hear updates on this campaign you can join here.