Kukerin clearing saga

24 Dec, 2012 01:00 AM
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Kukerin farmer Matthew King has reapplied to the DEC to clear 10 hectares of land for a dam which he says will help drought proof his farm, but said he has again be refused.
Kukerin farmer Matthew King has reapplied to the DEC to clear 10 hectares of land for a dam which he says will help drought proof his farm, but said he has again be refused.

KUKERIN farmer Matthew King is embroiled in another issue with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).

This time though, the issue is over the original 10 hectares of land, which Mr King believes was the cause for his fine for cleaning up 'dead wood' following a fire.

Mr King has applied to clear 10 hectares of bushland on his property so he can put a dam in for what he says would "help drought proof his farm."

Mr King featured in Farm Weekly last year during a court case over clearing dead wood on his property which he said was "good farm management".

Mr King later received more than a $23,000 fine for clearing the wood on the ground and dead trees, which sparked outrage throughout the Wheatbelt and raised the issue of the struggling relationship between the DEC and farmers.

It is the fifth time in 25 years that Mr King has applied to clear the area and it is the fifth time he has been refused.

But this time Mr King said DEC had requested the application be sent in but it was still refused.

Mr King claimed DEC representatives Kelly Gillen and Kelly Faulkner, who is now the appeals convenor and DAFWA soil and land commissioner Andrew Watson had asked for Mr King to reapply during a meeting earlier in the year on his property.

But Mr King's application was refused on December 13.

Mr King had to attach a farm management plan which the DEC had stated was 'insufficient.'

In a letter signed by DEC director general Keiran McNamara it stated that the farm management plan was discussed in a number of meetings with DEC and WAFarmers' representatives in previous meetings.

"After finding your proposal to be variance to a number of these clearing principles, and having regard for your view that you do not wish to have any further unnecessary delays, I have decided to refuse your application," the letter said.

"The reasons for my decision are contained in the attached decision report."

Mr King has 21 days to appeal the decision and said he was still considering it.

A DEC spokesperson said they were unable to comment until after the appeal date had passed.

Earlier this year WAFarmers president Dale Park described the relationship between farmers and the DEC as being at "an all time low."'

He clearly still held that view when commenting on the latest situation.

"At all stages we should remember that Mr King's application was for 10 hectares of land," Mr Park said.

"This is of a total of 664 hectares of bush land on his property or in real terms, Mr King sought to clear about 1.5 per cent of his existing native vegetation.

"In their assessment, DEC again prevented Mr King developing his business based only on studies of unknown age which place so-called rare and endangered species within a distance of up to 20 kilometres from Mr King's property.

"As such, very little current and relevant science has been used in the DEC assessment of Mr King's application.

"Despite Mr King complying with every request that DEC made in 2012, DEC's ruling of his application amounts to little more than the standard response which DEC gives to every farmer in the Wheatbelt who applies for clearing permits, which is effectively that the 'computer says no', resulting on a blanket ban in the Wheatbelt, to even small scale clearing.

"Mr King even offered to offset an area of land, to facilitate the 10 hectares of land which he wanted to clear, however DEC were unable to even provide guidelines as to the suitability of this offer.

"Clearly, offsetting of land is a term which DEC uses but has no guidelines for, effectively being of no value to farmers.

"DEC's treatment of Mr King is little more than the telling of a joke which is not funny anymore.

"The message this sends to farmers is clear and definite.

"WAFarmers urges all farmers to carefully consider their interaction with DEC and its staff into the future."

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READER COMMENTS

Trugger
24/12/2012 7:04:31 AM, on Farm Weekly

Mr King, a miner could apply for a mining lease on the whole property and if granted could clear everything. A truly absurd situation. The deep greens are securely wedged into these public service positions and it is way past time that some common sense was knocked into their heads, metaphorically speaking.

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