THE Murray River Action Group has urged the federal government to make it a priority to compensate landowners affected by the Murray-Darling Basin plan.
The group represents 120 farmers who won’t be able to work large tracts of their properties when the plan returns 2750 gigalitres of surface water to the environment.
Group chairman Ian Lobban will appear at a Senate committee hearing in Canberra today to press for compensation.
“It has to be addressed now and not in five or 10 years time,” he said.
“We have got a lot of property owners whose lives will be held to ransom.
“How can you sell a property when the environmental impact is going to be on that property?
“Elderly people who want to go into retirement will virtually become locked in.”
The group has already had informal discussions with consultants to work out packages for landowners on the Murray River between Lake Hume and Lake Mulwala.
Mr Lobban will also raise with the committee issues about access to stock and uncertainty on when environmental flows will take place.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke signed off on a new management plan for the Murray-Darling Basin yesterday.
Mr Lobban said the introduction of the plan was inevitable, but its actual implementation would be a massive challenge for the government.
“A lot of the authorities haven’t realised the implication of the channel capacities as far as delivering the water to South Australia,” he said.
“It is a bloody long way to get the water to South Australia and there are a lot of infrastructure problems you have to overcome to do that.
“To get that massive volume of water downstream it is going to play absolute havoc for a lot of the floodplain landowners.
“We never were going to stop the plan. But most of our work is going into ensuring landowners can get the best possible outcome as far as compensation.”
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley yesterday agreed with Mr Lobban’s concerns about compensation.
“Even with the nominated figure below or slightly above 2750 gigalitres, the basin plan allows for the flooding of low-lying land, river beaches, bridges, sheds and roads just to send more water downstream,” she said.
“How you compensate private owners is a massive issue still to be resolved.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.