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VCAT win for Broadford pistol club

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By Colin MacGillivray

SHOOTING at Broadford’s Calibre Sports pistol club is now permitted seven days a week after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, VCAT, overturned a Mitchell Shire Council decision to block changes to the club’s permitted hours.

In August last year council knocked back the club’s application to extend its permitted hours of operation to 9am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and 12pm to 6pm on Sundays while raising the permitted number of shooters on site from 120 to 180.

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At the time councillors said allowing shooting 365 days a year at the pistol range, located at the Broadford State Motorcycle Sports Complex, would be ‘excessive’.

“I don’t have anything against shooting or gun clubs, I just think they need to be a little bit mindful of their neighbours,” former councillor Christine Banks said.

Councillors also noted the club’s original 2013 permit had already been amended twice to extend the number of shooting hours.

Calibre Sports challenged council’s decision at VCAT, and last month tribunal members Ian Potts and Tracy Watson found in favour of the club.

Shooting at the club is now only prohibited on days of total fire ban or unless otherwise agreed in writing with council.

The members found that the noise created by most firearms used by the club was ‘only a few decibels above background noise level’ and unlikely to unduly affect residents at nearby properties.

In Calibre Sports’ VCAT submission the club said it sought to extend the number of days shooting was allowed to give it greater flexibility to host state and national-level competitions.

It said its capacity to host high-level competition was dictated by designated noise-free days at the State Morotcycle Sports Complex.

Mitchell Shire Council Mayor Bill Chisholm said Calibre Sports provided evidence at VCAT that did not form part of the club’s initial application to change its permit.

“Council’s decision to refuse the application was made at an ordinary council meeting on 16 August 2021,” he said.

“The reason for the refusal was due to the lack of supporting information addressing concerns about noise and amenity impacts.

“Through the VCAT process, Calibre Sport engaged legal representation which identified the shortcoming of supporting documents and sought to provide the tribunal and all parties with updated evidence.

“The report investigated noise impacts in accordance with EPA guidelines and the site-specific limitations and opportunities.

“Based on the expert evidence presented on the day of the hearing, all parties were better equipped to understand the implications of the proposal.

“Council’s decision to refuse this application was based on the lack of supporting documents provided through the initial assessment process.”

Calibre Sports did not respond to the Review when approached for comment.

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