South Gippsland Shire Council has called for written submissions from the community regarding its intention to declare the section of the Fish Creek Quarry Road, Fish Creek from Fish Creek – Foster Road, Fish Creek to Beards Road, Fish Creek as reasonably required for public use to be open to public traffic.
The section of the unused Fish Creek Quarry Road runs right through the heart of an operational dairy farm.
A recently formed walking group are proposing to incorporate this road section as a link from the Great Southern Rail Trail at Fish Creek into their proposed Hoddle Mountain Trail.
The cost to ratepayers to form this section of road up to a safe standard to avoid liability, we believe, would be several hundred thousand dollars which is in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars already spent on the proposal process thus far and not including the ongoing management and maintenance costs.
To be clear, we, the affected farmers are not opposed to the Hoddle Mountain Trail proper, however, there are a few alternative routes to connect Fish Creek to the proposed Hoddle Mountain Trail that are more scenic, do not cost the ratepayer and do not affect anyone or our two young families and the viability of the dairy enterprise including the biosecurity and animal welfare implications the opening of this unused road would bring.
This walking group is asking council for full funding with nothing “in kind” and that we erect fencing at our cost to either side of the unused road, to suddenly impact upon two young families with the cost burden of having to fence the unused roadway to a suitable standard is just not viable. In fact, this division of land will destroy the dairy farm and force both our families from the land.
If this unused (not open to public) road is allowed to be open to the public it will not only finish this dairy enterprise but also set a precedent for other unused/paper roads or government managed land parcels across the shire and state.
There are already proponents for a walking track to link Sandy Point and Waratah Bay – ‘Waratah Way’ – which also affects farmers and another for Venus Bay which will impact farming operations.
Councillors will vote whether to open the road for public traffic or discontinue this section of road at the request of the neighbouring land owners at an ordinary council meeting in April.
We urge all farmers, other ratepayers and concerned members of the community to speak out against this absurd proposed waste of ratepayers’ money and the precedence it will set.
Submissions must be received no later than 5pm, Tuesday, February 13 and addressed to the CEO, South Gippsland Shire Council, 9 Smith Street, Leongatha, Vic 3953.
Council will proceed to implement the proposal if no submissions are received.
Carl Talbot, director, Talbot Grazing Company.