Albany man in 'desperate' plea

25 Jan, 2005 10:00 PM

ALBANY farmer Brian Burns, who has been prevented from touching 1400ha of land on two holdings, has made a desperate plea to Environment Minster Judy Edwards to get his life back on track.

Soil Conservation Notices (SCN) were served on Mr Burns' entire 400ha Jacup holding and 1000ha of his 1800ha at Lake Grace in 1996.

He said bureaucrats had falsely assessed the natural drainage in the affected areas and claimed salinity would result from new land clearing.

Ms Edwards had been aware of his case since she was in opposition and had the capacity to protect his future.

"It is that serious, realistically speaking, my life and my superannuation are tied up in this land," Mr Burns said.

He said those who made and enforced environmental legislation, such as the Soil and Land Conservation (SLC) Act he was punished under, needed to accept the effects they could have on others' lives.

"If you're in business you've got to face certain realities; if you don't you will get sued. Why can't these people have the guts to face the same reality," he said.

He would not rule out a court challenge if his latest appeals failed.

He asked Ms Edwards to do one of several things: pay a lease on his land, buy him other farming land, swap him land that he could rehabilitate and sell as farm land, or pay for him to continue a house relocation business, which would allow him to buy another farm.

Mr Burns' lawyers have asked for more information from Ms Edwards on how the SLC Act was applied in his case, after they were advised it had been done so appropriately.

They are now asking for damages rather than compensation to be paid and claim the case has been passed around the departments of the Premier, Agriculture and Environment.

Ms Edwards said the SLC Act was under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department, but a Department of Environment official would meet with Mr Burns to discuss his case and attempt to find an equitable solution.

She could not comment on any of Mr Burns' or his lawyers' requests until after that had occurred.


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