Baffle Basin Dam moratorium lifted

A SIX-YEAR moratorium on new property dams in the Baffle Creek Basin has been lifted, but farmers say the damage done by the long wait is irreparable.

A new Water Resource Plan for the Baffle came into effect from November 5, putting an end to a six-year ban on farmers building new dams.

Mullett Creek farmer Tom Gorton said the moratorium being lifted would not take away the hardships he had faced during the past six years.

“This whole thing has just been the worst years of our lives. All our plans have been shattered,” he said.

The avocado, mango and lychee farmer said he did not know how he would progress.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the plans contain and go from there,” he said.

“It’s strange how they can just be allowed to bugger our lives around for six years.”

The Land Court ruled in favour of Mr Gorton’s water catchment plans before a moratorium was placed on the area in 2004.

“I think we weren’t given a fair go by the department,” the farmer said.

“They couldn’t legitimately refuse our applications so they did this.”

A spokesman from the Department of Environment and Resource Management said the plan meant landholders would now need a water licence to build a dam over 20 megalitres.

“The plan provides for the full use of all existing water entitlements and supports additional future demand through the provision of specified unallocated water reserves,” he said.

The Water Resource Operations Plan, which will contain the rules to fully implement the Water Resource Plan, is expected to be completed by mid-2011.

Baffle Creek Progress Association president Dale Hicks said she did not agree with restrictions being placed on landholders building dams.

“I thought it was our land,” she said.

“It’s getting ridiculous the amount of paperwork we have to do.”

Ms Hicks said she thought a number of people in the Baffle Creek area would be unhappy about the plan.

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