Weed management questioned

Member for Euroa Steph Ryan with Glenaroua Land Management Group president Paul Fleming, far right, and vice president Bruce Nicholls.

Broadford residents have raised their concern about the State Government’s lack of weed management along the north-east rail corridor between Broadford and Wandong.

The management of weeds including blackberry, gorse and St John’s wort has allegedly been neglected for the past four years with the weeds spreading to neighbouring properties.

Broadford landholder and Glenaroua Land Management Group president Paul Fleming said he had consistently reached out to State Government departments and officials to get them to address the issue since 1999.

Mr Fleming said he had to spray his property’s frontage to the train line, about a kilometre long and 50-metres wide and fenced off for natural revegetation, every year because of the weeds spreading.

“In my property, I’m responsible for keeping the weeds under control, but they just don’t take responsibility for it,” he said.

“The stock will graze [St John’s wort], so in the open paddock, you don’t have much of a problem but when you’ve got plantations locked up for the environmental reasons, you then find that the weeds the livestock won’t tackle just flourish,” he said.

“It costs me probably three days of my time and there’s chemicals and so forth, but it’s just having to do it when you shouldn’t have to do it.”

Management of the train line between Donnybrook and Seymour is shared between the V/Line and the Australian Rail Track Corporation, who both work with VicTrack to maintain vegetation on the rail reserve.

In Parliament last week, Member for Euroa Steph Ryan questioned the State Government for failing to comply with the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, which requires landowners to manage declared noxious weeds.

“The government is failing to comply with its own legislation, which requires all landholders to manage declared noxious weeds, including blackberry, gorse and St John’s wort,” Ms Ryan said.

“Landholders are sick to death of trying to control weeds while the government abrogates its responsibilities.”

Ms Ryan said she believed one of the reasons it had been allowed to go on was the corridor was managed by several different agencies, which allowed them to ‘pass the buck’.

“We need somebody to take accountability and recognise that it is a problem for our community and for adjoining landholders and to actually act on the weed problems,” she said.

“It is a real issue that the State Government is quick to throw the book at landholders for not managing weeds, but their own agencies are failing to meet their obligations as well.”

A State Government spokesperson said vegetation removal efforts were prioritised to focus on high-risk areas and management works were recently completed in townships along the rail line including Broadford, Wandong and Kilmore East in preparation for summer.

“V/Line, VicTrack and ARTC work together closely to maintain the shared section of the network between Donnybrook and Seymour, including fire prevention and vegetation management works,” the spokesperson said.

“Regular land maintenance undertaken includes tree, vegetation and grass removal, pruning, weed spraying and collection of illegally dumped rubbish.”

Crews also spray herbicides up to five metres from the track to manage growth in the rail corridor and remove noxious weeds as needed.

Residents with queries, concerns or who would like to flag an area for inspection are encouraged to call V/Line’s customer service team on 1800 800 007.