AN East-Coast farmer has called for greater respect and communication towards landowners after his property and roads were significantly damaged by TasNetwork contractors.
Nick Ferrar owns Sally Peak, a 2000ha property south of Buckland where he operates a stud sheep as well as a camping business named Ardross, that hires plots of land for caravans, tents and campervans. He has also recently invested significant funds to construct a downhill mountain bike track through the property, which has recently been approved for use. Through the middle of the property run powerlines maintained by TasNetworks via an easement to utilise the private gravel roads on the property.
Without prior notification to Mr Ferrar, the roads were used by heavy machinery across some of the wettest weeks of July and August by contractors working for TasNetworks. This caused significant damage to the roads as well as unnecessary damage to some campsites, trees and signage. “If I was told they were planning on coming on to the property, I’d have told them to wait a few weeks until the rain cleared and the roads dried off,” Mr Ferrar said.
“But I wasn’t, I found out when I saw them coming off the property telling me it’s too wet to do any more work.” Mr Ferrar has had to close his campsites and delay the opening of the mountain bike trials as access to the property is currently next to impossible. He is also angry at the way the work was carried out. “There is crushed bluestone poured on the roads where the damage is worst, that simply won’t do the job.
Rocks the size of your head are going to puncture the tyres of the first caravan that comes up this road. “There is a gravel pit on this property where the existing gravel came from, if there was any communication along the line, they could have avoided the damage or at least fixed it properly using that. “Now there is potentially contaminated dirt spread across my property while I’m waiting on them to come back, pull it up and do it properly.”
Mr Ferrar estimated his losses to be in the thousands after having to cancel camping bookings and mountain bike tours for over a month. A TasNetworks spokesperson said a communication error had meant the work to clear vegetation for access tracks, was conducted without the landowner’s knowledge.
“Unfortunately, our system had incorrect contact information for the landowner whose property the works were being carried out on, which meant that they were not notified of the access required, nor the nature and type of work to be undertaken. “TasNetworks and its contractors will always endeavour to contact landowners directly when needing to access transmission line easements for routine inspection or maintenance. “In this case, this commitment was not met.”
TasNetworks has contacted the landowner directly and apologised for the error, as well as committing the contractors will return in drier weather to tidy the damaged areas.