Tensions ran high in a packed Harvey Shire Council chamber last week as the fate of a vegetable grower’s contentious application to expand its horticultural operations was deferred until next year. Family-run vegetable producer Patane Produce’s request to clear native vegetation on two lots along Rigg Road in Myalup to allow for further farming operations has been met with an overwhelming negative response from nearby residents because of its potential environmental impact. The proposal seeks to clear 6.95ha of trees and plants, home to more than four endangered and critically endangered native species. Business co-owner Pennie Patane spoke at last Tuesday’s meeting to ask councillors to defer a decision on the proposal rather than reject the application. The officer’s report recommended the application be dismissed as it did not preserve “important natural flora and fauna habitats” and had potential to “create irreversible damage to the land quality” through erosion and loss of soil. Ms Patane said the native vegetation within the proposed clearing areas was in a “completely degraded” condition and existed mostly as “disconnected paddock trees with little or no understorey”. “We would really like (the council) to approve the deferral, so that we can all get in a room and ... use scientific information to address the issues that have been raised,” she said. Cr Tania Jackson spoke in favour of the deferral, raising an alternate motion to allow Patane Produce to re-assess the proposed clearing until the March council meeting. “The reality is that an agricultural property in a primarily agricultural area has a right to farm and has to adhere to the planning and clearing regulations as they are determined,” she said. “I feel we need to hear the outcome of one process and then go down the line of working with the two parties as was put by the proponent. “If this ends up in a State Administrative Tribunal then I don’t think we’ll be happy with what the result is.” More than five residents spoke against deferring the decision, raising concerns about potential contamination of drinking water from pesticides, the impact on wildlife and noise issues. The council decided to defer the matter to the March council meeting.