A $3 million plan to get 30 underpasses constructed in NSW for dairy farms is still sitting on the drawing books despite a promise from the NSW State Government to pursue the idea.
Almost two years ago the government agreed to a memorandum of understanding with NSW Farmers to look at building the underpasses, but as yet, all the leg work for the plan has been done by NSW Farmers, who have identified 30 highway dairy black spots, mainly on the north and south coasts, where underpasses would ease safety concerns.
In Victoria, that state’s underpass plan (CUPS) has been going for many years with 550 underpasses already built.
But in NSW the outcome is zero.
The Hurrells at Comboyne, near Wingham on the Mid North Coast, have put up with angry motorists for most of their farming lives and have had two injuries to cows in the past two years.
Jenny Hurrell said motorists also complained about the cow manure left on the road.
“People are still in a hurry to get to work,” she said.
“We put all the signs on the road but you can’t stop a car or a cow quick enough sometimes to avoid a collision.”
A survey by NSW Farmers found about 30 essential areas where underpasses would be useful – near Bega, Nowra, Lismore, Tweed Heads and Port Macquarie.
NSW Farmers and dairy members used google maps to provide co-ordinates of the areas where underpasses would be beneficial.
To help government pursue the project, these co-ordinates were given to the Department of Primary Industries.
Farmers are now seeking an urgent meeting with the new NSW Roads minister Melinda Pavey, a North Coast National MP, who many hope will be sympathetic to the underpass issue.
Farmers say the underpasses are necessary to stop hazards associated with the expansion of urban areas into traditional farming land.
NSW Farmers say it is a peri-urban issue that needs to be addressed to stop fatalities.
The problem is obviously worse during holiday time with more traffic on the roads.
A release from NSW Farmers says: “NSW Farmers is asking government to consider budget allocation of $3 million dollars for the establishment of a similar scheme to Victoria.
“Have been working with DPI on the logistics of such a scheme, and will be looking to discuss the issue with Minister Pavey.
“In the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that NSWFA negotiated with the NSW Coalition just prior to the 2013 election, the Coalition committed to ‘working to progress other priorities identified by NSWFA and its membership, including development of a cattle underpass scheme’.”
The Victorian Farmers Federation spearheaded a push for underpasses in Victoria, which allowed grants of up to $50,000 for farmers to build cattle underpasses on their properties.
The VFF said the CUPS program had resulted in improved road safety and improved workplace safety for farmers.
By: John Ellicott