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GOVERNMENT officials will force their way on to one of Victoria’s oldest farms over the next few days with plans to chop it in two.
Despite the protests of the Larcombe family at Mt Duneed, near Geelong, the Victorian Government is going ahead with plans to build a $115 million train workshop and stabling yards on their farm.
“We’ve stopped them coming on to the place so far but now they are waving the law books at us and saying we can’t stop them,” Stan Larcombe (above) said.
.The Government wants to compulsorily acquire about 35ha of the Larcombe’s 455ha farm, which would separate the farmhouse and sheds from the paddocks.
Public Transport Victoria wants a 200m-wide strip of the farm running 1.9km alongside the Melbourne-Warrnambool rail line, which bisects the farm.
Mr Larcombe crosses the rail line several times a day to move sheep around the farm and says PTV officials claim it would be too expensive to build an underpass.
He said the property, farmed by his family for 112 years and founded in 1855 by the state’s first European settlers, the Hentys, would be ruined as a working farm.
PTV has invoked its powers under two acts of Parliament to bring machinery and people onto the property. PTV wants to spend two weeks surveying and drilling on the land to make sure “it is suitable for the project”. “We have told them they weren’t welcome on the place until they could tell us what they were up to,” Mr Larcombe said.
“Well it’s been a year and we’ve heard nothing, then we get this letter saying, ‘Let us on or else.’
“It’s about what we’ve come to expect. I don’t know if they expect me to move my sheep or what,” he said. “The authority of the Government and all their laws are for their benefit, not for the private landholder.”
A PTV spokesman said the Waurn Ponds Maintenance and Stabling Facility was critical to allow trains to meet turnaround times for commuters between Melbourne and Geelong.
He said PTV was still in the early stages of the land identification process.
“As part of this early stage, landowners of a proposed site in Waurn Ponds have been engaged with early advice regarding the need to conduct further field investigations to confirm viability of the land.
“This includes discussions and correspondence with the landowners to understand their concerns and land and farming needs.”
A spokesman for Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said affected parties “will continue to be notified every step of the way as planning for this important project continues”.
Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party MP Jeff Bourman said the Larcombes had been shabbily treated.
“There’s an obvious location for this facility right next door but for some reason the Government can’t see it,” he said.
“I think it would be crushing for a farmer like Stan to be told his farm is going to be wrecked like this.”
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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