Prime agricultural land is being compromised because of ineffective management of the region’s drainage system, Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell says.
Mrs Britnell said many of the drains which were established in the early part of the twentieth century haven’t been cleared in over 40 years – because there is no clear framework in place outlining whose job that is.
“Changes to legislation, regulations and the role of government agencies over time has caused considerable confusion around the management and operation of rural drainage systems,” Mrs Britnell said.
“In some cases, we have farmers who have been fined for cleaning drains out.
“When pastures are underwater, farmers aren’t able to use the land; they can’t grow grass or crops limiting their ability to effectively run their businesses viably.
“If they can’t cut their own silage, they are forced to buy it in, adding unnecessary costs to already tight margins.”
Mrs Britnell said the State Government had committed to releasing a draft strategy into drainage systems by the middle of this year.
“It’s now almost October and we are still yet to see or hear anything about this strategy.
“The strategy must set clear guidelines about who is responsible for the management of rural drains and appropriate legislative powers must given to the authority deemed responsible.
“Until this is achieved, confusion will reign. Our farmers need their land to be productive and usable – that isn’t the case while it’s under water.”