Lime route delay will cause strife

26 Jun, 2002 10:00 PM

NATIONAL Party leader Max Trenorden believes delays to the construction of heavy haulage routes for lime from Lancelin could impose a heavy cost on the agricultural industry.

The State Government began a review of the project with a workshop at Northam last weekend, after receiving complaints from residents who live on proposed routes.

The review is likely to delay the start of construction by at least 12 months.

The lime is imperative to WA producers to balance acidity in the soil, which is caused by modern farming techniques ‹ including the growth of legume crops and the application of nitrogen.

Lancelin is the best source of agricultural lime sand and two routes have been proposed to cart it into the south-eastern grain growing areas.

Route one goes from Lancelin, through Gingin, Bindoon and Toodyay to Northam.

The second route takes in Mogumber, New Norcia and Calingari to Goomalling.

It is estimated that 10pc of agricultural land in WA will need yearly applications of lime to maintain the soil's pH balance.

Despite adverse seasonal conditions, the use of lime jumped by more than 200,000t last year. It is expected farmers will use one million tonnes this year.

The proposal was drawn up by the Coalition Government. It was part of the Transform initiative and was to be funded from the $50 motor vehicle levy.

Mr Trenorden said the latest review was a stalling tactic by Labor.

"You can use the consultation process until you are black in the face," Mr Trenorden said.

"But there are some things that governments just have to do ‹ and the lime routes is one of them.

"If agriculture does not get the lime, it is in strife and the demand will continue to grow.

"There is opposition from people who live on the routes because they are worried the extra traffic will cause dangers on the roads.

"They think that if you stop the road, the lime won't move.

"But the lime will have to come through and it is far better that it is transported on a well-designed, wider road. The peak period is only short, in February-March.

"This government will publish its paper from the workshop, which will show the community attitudes ‹ which we knew already.

"Then it will go to the expert group, which will say the routes have to be built."

WAFarmers president Colin Nicholl said freight was the biggest cost of lime, which was applied at 1t/ha. He said it all had to carted by road.

"The lime routes should be under construction now but the Minister (Alanah MacTiernan) has used the protests of shires like Toodyay, which does not want the trucks going through the town, to defer the expenditure," Mr Nicholl said.

"Freight is going to be a very significant cost to both grain and pasture because the application of nitrogen or growing legume crops increases the acidity in the soil.

"That means growing clover or lupins and the use of Agras or Urea all increase soil acidity."



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