The Victorian Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to target recalcitrant land owners who fail to control invasive plants on private property, says State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“Whilst more continually needs to be done and this is a problem that will not go away, I welcome the news that the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) had more than doubled property inspections in a major crackdown on agricultural pests like blackberry, gorse, ragwort and thistles.
“Around 250 properties have been inspected in East Gippsland and over 50 landholders have received land management or directions notices. In several cases in the state, fines have been issued and one prosecution is pending.
“In an electorate like Gippsland East, where such a variety of weeds are threats in different areas, a higher level of enforcement is required and this will continue to be the case.”
Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh, said “this government allocated an additional $21.2 million in the State Budget to boost the fight against weeds and pests and this investment is paying off,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said state-wide, DPI officers inspected 2,768 properties from July to December 2011 compared to just 1,290 for the same period in 2010.
“As a result of this crackdown, 12 property owners have been hit with fines and another will be prosecuted through the courts by DPI inspectors,” Mr Walsh said.
“Across the state some 633 landowners have received land management or directions notices over the period demanding they take action to clean up their properties or face penalties. This is up on 288 notices issued the previous year.
“This government is committed to taking action on those landholders who allow their properties to become a haven for pests and weeds.”
Mr Walsh said the former Labor Government had walked away from controlling widespread weeds such as gorse and blackberry.
“The fact that more than one in five properties inspected required an improvement notice is proof the state went backwards under Labor’s lax approach,” he said.
Mr Walsh said DPI inspectors would target weed enforcement actions to support communities where landholders were working together to co-ordinate pest control action, for example through Landcare groups or weed taskforces.
The department is implementing 90 weed enforcement projects across Victoria to support community-led action on weeds.