Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : April 2011 Contents 34 The Dairyman APRIL 2011
Waimate underpasses now mandatory
IT'S a case of where does a farm property
stop and roadways begin in Waimate
District as some dairy farmers seek to take
over public roads and call them their own to
graze stock, store balage and implements,
plant trees and even erect fences across them
to walk cows.
And the Waimate District Council has had
In a district where stock underpasses have
just become mandatory under roads carrying
150 or more cars a day, council staff, tired of
having to clean up after stock crossings, are
set to send out invoices to property owners
for the cost of the work.
And they are fielding complaints from
road users that electric fence tapes are being
strung across roads. They are hard to see and
could cause an accident, motorists say.
Waimate District Council roading assets
manager Rob Moffat says the practice is daft
"Road crossings for stock are a con-
tentious issue. We have a permit system.
Some crossings have got permits, some
haven't, but fencing the road off is not part of
our plan and is a real concern to us," Mr
Some of the taped-off roads have been on
higher-volume sealed roads and those
responsible were farmers "who knew better".
Public disquiet and ongoing road mainte-
nance issues forced the council's hand
recently with the introduction of a new
bylaw -- a new dairy operation that needs to
move stock across a road must build a coun-
cil-approved underpass if that road carries
150 cars or more per day.
Mr Moffat said the new bylaw clarified a
previously cloudy and often informal area in
dairy set-up process.
But, he said, the bylaw was not retrospec-
tive and would not force those dairy farmers
already holding a stock crossing permit to
install underpasses -- an expensive added
cost to a dairy conversion which could reach
between $100,000 and $150,000 for a
Unless they flouted the rules, that is.
Mr Moffat warned that farmers who
ignored the conditions of their road surface
crossing permit could have that permit
revoked and be forced to install an under-
"At this stage the bylaw affects only new
The softer stance is heading for a mail-box
ending for some farmers though.
The council thinks cleaning up roadways
after cows and dairying operations should
not be a cost borne by ratepayers.
"We are about to start sending the bills
directly to the farmers concerned," Mr
Mud and dung on the roads, especially
during the freezing winters was a hazard, he
"We will be sending trucks and equipment
to clean the roads and bill the farmers
The general feeling in the Waimate
District among some dairy farmers with
properties on either side of the road seems to
be that the roadway is part of their property,
Mr Moffat thinks.
He says any activity on a roadway between
boundary fences must have explicit permis-
sion from the council.
The roads are not just another paddock
with a track for cars through them, he says.
Balage and farm equipment is being stored
on roadsides, and road shoulders are being
damaged by heavy vehicles in the storage
and removal process.
"We are getting a lot of shoulder damage,
even on our wider roads. The reason is that
on two-laned roads farmers are inclined to
drive heavy machinery on the shoulders, just
because they can."
Stick to the seal, he said.
The same message was levelled at "dairy
cowboys" riding 4WD quad bikes.
"Some of these blokes are whipping out of
driveways without looking and squirting off
down to the dairy shed, riding their bikes on
the wrong side of the road with one set of
wheels on the berm causing ruts.
"Our roads were not designed for this
practice 20 times a day, quite apart from the
fact that it is dangerous and accidents are
happening," Mr Moffat said.
And if farmers think their properties
would look nicer with a row of tall bluegums
just outside, the council has a clear message:
don't plant them on the roadside.
"In the past years we have allowed people
to put their fences closer to the road, but only
"But now we are seeing a lot of trees being
planted on roading land. Little trees become
big trees and grow further over the roads and
into power lines and if they fall over the road,
the clean-up cost belongs to the property
owner," Mr Moffat said.
By GRAEME STILWELL
Waimate District Council roading assets
manager Rob Moffat.
photo: Waimate District Council
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