Farmer agreement required to further progress constraints relaxation

Media Releases » Farmer agreement required to further progress constraints relaxation

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) says the government must work with farmers and seek their agreement to flood farmland to achieve environmental watering objectives under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

VFF Water Council Chair Andrew Leahy said the release of the Victorian Government’s report into constraints relaxation showed hundreds of farm properties would be subject to inundation.

“Constraint relaxation is one of the 36 SDLAM projects part of the Basin Plan and was projected to deliver a 70 to 80GL offset benefit to the environment.”

“Pushing extra water on floodplains will mean the flooding of some farms. We need to ensure the impacts on farmers are considered.”

Mr Leahy said the VFF had long argued that flooding of private property must not occur without agreement from impacted landowners, including for compensation. 

“Flooding compensation must cover long term recurring impacts noting that inundation at farm level affects grazing, river pumps, fencing, farm access routes and overall property management.”

Mr Leahy was part of the committee that reviewed options for increasing river flows over the past 16 months.

“The majority of the committee has recommended the development of a detailed business case that includes a full assessment of the costs and benefits and detailed engagement with property owners.”

“Any further work on constraints must ensure fairness and consistency. Community co-design is critical, and every affected landholder must be engaged.”

Mr Leahy said it was important that the impact of relaxing constraints on Victorian communities and the environment was recognised.

“The report rightly identifies that the Murray River on the NSW and Victorian sides must be considered collectively. It also highlights that the Goulburn constraints project does not contribute to the SDLAM offset, but would have impacts on farmers and our environment. The Commonwealth Government must acknowledge this and ensure it is factored into the implementation of the Basin Plan.”

What the report found:

  • Adopting flows on the Goulburn River below Eildon of 13,700 ML/day, 14,00ML/day at Molesworth and 25,000ML/d at Shepparton would lead to more frequent inundation for a total of 6,064ha of public land and 1,505ha of private land (289 properties).
  • Adopting flows on the Murray River at Doctors Point of 40,000ML/day and 45,000ML/day at Yarrawonga would see 45,741 ha of public land and 3,576ha of private land (170 properties) experiencing more frequent inundation.
  • 90% of the private properties on the Goulburn River would have an area of less than 5ha inundated, with a maximum area of 22ha inundation.  On the Murray River, 65% of private properties had an area of less than 5ha inundated, with a maximum of 500ha of inundation.