Meetings hear about problems

By Country News on December 23, 2015

’The latest round of consultations over the $2billion Connections project has wound up, with more complaints about progress.

John Edwards from Congupna was one farmer who visited last week’s round of consultations and said the project was going ‘‘pear-shaped’’.

About 200 people attended consultation sessions in Numurkah, Shepparton, Kyabram, Rochester, Kerang and Boort, run by an independent facilitator for the Victorian Government.

The aim was for landholders to provide feedback on the future of the Connections project.

A review of the project released in November found the project needed to be re-shaped.

Mr Edwards is retired from farming, but still wanted to give his opinion on the project.

‘‘This is why they have to have these meetings, because it’s not going good,’’ Mr Edwards said.

‘‘They obviously think there are problems with it.’’

DELWP rural water programs executive director’ Andrew Fennessy said DELWP wanted community engagement out of the consultations.

‘‘From the feedback we have received, we found that there is a willingness to continue the project,’’ Mr Fennessy said.

‘‘This project is a huge investment and vital for the future of irrigators and the region’s economic prosperity — it will boost irrigation efficiency and productivity and save water.’’

Merrigum farmer Frank Leyden has a farm supplied by two spur channels and in 2010 the former modernisation authority, NVIRP, proposed a new connection to the backbone.

One other landholder opposed the change, and Mr Leyden said he never heard back from NVIRP.

Earlier this year he asked Goulburn-Murray Water what was happening with his connection, and he discovered his spur was not on the map the G-MW representative was using.

After attending the recent round of G-MW Connections meetings, Mr Leyden still could not find out what was happening with his connection and was told there was no facilitator appointed for his strategic connection plan area.

Mr Leyden said he had been let down by repeated promises to provide information on his property connection.

‘‘I want to develop my property and I don’t want to have to redo earthworks once the connections are sorted out,’’ he said.

‘‘There seems to be a total lack of communication. I’m hoping that future consultation is better than it has been so far.

‘‘The year 2018 is coming up. We have one chance to make this system good.’’

By Country News on December 23, 2015

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