ADJOINING landowners at Arawata are at their wits’ end to know what to do about their ‘neighbour from hell’.
While their paddocks are well-looked after and virtually weed-free, the problem neighbour’s property, on Ritchies Road, is absolutely lousy with ragwort and the heads of hundreds, if not thousands of these terribly prolific plants, are about to go to seed.
If the seeds do blow, and they will if not dealt with in the next few weeks, the paddocks for kilometres around will be infested with ragwort and an even bigger environmental problem will loom next year.
At the height of a bad ragwort infestation in the Yarram area in the 1980s, ragwort was allegedly found growing on the oil rigs, 45km out to sea in Bass Strait.
These plants can each produce upwards of 200,000 seeds, and although many of them are deposited around the host plant, they can also ‘parachute’ long distances on the wind according to a Department of Natural Resources and Environment (2002) AgNote:
“The great majority of seed fall within the immediate area of the parent plant, but because such a vast number of seeds is produced, the amount which becomes airborne and travels for long distances (kilometres) is large.”
Next door neighbour, Rob Whitaker, blames his neighbour mostly, but he’s also very disappointed about the lack of response from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources which is allegedly responsible for weed control enforcement.
“We’ve been chasing the DPI, or whatever they’re called now, for months and they’ve done nothing,” Mr Whitaker said.
“We knew this was coming and we got on to it straight away.
“They said they sent him a letter in October but for confidentiality reasons they couldn’t tell us anymore.
“They’re just hiding behind this confidentiality business.
“We need to know if anything is going to be done.
“This has gone on year after year. They know as well as we do what the problem is and yet it just gets drawn out and drawn out.”
It’s not the first time that the notorious Arawata landowner as fallen foul of his neighbours and the department.
In recent times his farm had to be destocked when emaciated cattle started dying, and a few years ago, after the intervention of the former Member for Gippsland South, Peter Ryan, the department did indeed enforce control measures after the man failed to deal with his weeds.
An absentee owner from Melbourne, the man has been a problem since he purchased the property 15 years ago.
Mr Whitaker said the six farms adjoining the man’s property were in line to suffer most but others nearby were also concerned.
“The department can use its enforcement powers when needs be and they know very well that’s what’s needed here.
“So, for goodness sake, just get on with it.”
It’s clear from the roadside just how bad the ragwort is on the property with some paddocks worse than others. Meanwhile, on the surrounding farms, there’s barely a blade of grass out of place.
Government told: Just get on with it!