Shire tackled over farm erosion as property owner claims roadworks have caused water damage

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Email Shannon Smith
Shaun Thobaven inspects erosion on his Syred Road property.
Camera IconShaun Thobaven inspects erosion on his Syred Road property. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Farm owner Shaun Thobaven says he is seeking legal advice about possible compensation from the the Shire of Plantagenet, claiming recent roadworks have caused significant damage to his property.

His farm on Syred Road in Takalarup, east of Mt Barker, has areas of erosion — pictured here before the weekend’s storm — which he claims are linked to drainage work along the road by the Shire.

In past years, before recent culvert works, his property had “handled the heavy rain”, he said.

He said water run-off from nearby farms and along Syred Road was now causing “havoc”. “It is eroding my land very badly,” he said

“Water is being funnelled into drainpipes, taking a large area (of water) and forcing it through a smaller area and down across my paddocks.

“One area in particular I am concerned about ... there has never been a waterway going straight across the paddock and down through the valley.”

Mr Thobaven said he had worked hard to prevent erosion on his farm.

A wash out on Shaun Thobaven's Syred Road property.
Camera IconA wash out on Shaun Thobaven's Syred Road property. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

He wants Shire staff to come out and see his property.

“It is just destroying the land,” he said. “As landowners, we do all of this work to make sure we manage rivers and put bushland back into it, and there’s all gullies down there now.”

However, Shire of Plantagenet chief executive Cameron Woods said the works, completed in April, had not altered the water flow.

“The original culverts were cleaned out but not altered,” he said.

“A new culvert was added further uphill to relieve a lower culvert. This culvert discharges into an existing offshoot.

“No water flows have been altered ... The water flows in the same places it has since the culverts were originally installed.

“The new culvert discharges into a pre-existing offshoot. The existing culverts are over 20 years old, being of an older but jointed type.”

Mr Woods said there was no obligation to consult with landowners ahead of the works because discharge points were not altered.

He pointed to section 3.22 of the Local Government Act, which states: “compensation is not payable for damage sustained through a local government draining water on to land to the extent that the water follows a natural watercourse”.

“Upstream there is hundred hectares of cleared and cropped catchment,” Mr Woods said.

“Even if we just took away the culverts, this is a natural drainage corridor, and the water would still flood over the road and end up in the existing property.”

Water has been diverted onto Shaun Thobaven's Syred Road property.
Camera IconWater has been diverted onto Shaun Thobaven's Syred Road property. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails