Trail closures due to landholder concerns

Old Beechy Rail Trail Committee member and landholder Tricia Jukes wants Colac Otway Shire Council and four landowners to resolve their differences so the trail can reopen

One of Colac Otway’s most iconic tourist trails has partially closed until further notice.

Colac Otway Shire Council has temporarily closed almost 30 kilometres of the Old Beechy Rail Trail between Kawarren and Ferguson until it can resolve issues with four landowners who have requested the council close the trail on their properties.

The landowners wrote to the council on Thursday afternoon requesting the closures because they said the council had failed to meet the agreements it made with licence holders relating to insurance, maintenance and usage of the trail.

They said when they entered into the licenses they agreed to allow the community access across their properties via the trail at a peppercorn deal of $1 a year, and to keep the trail clear.

The council in return was to cover all costs and deal with all issues relating to insurance or liability related to the trail, and it would maintain the trail including trail surface, draining, vegetation, signage, weeds and fencing.

But an incident near the trail in late December pushed landholders to check in with the council about insurance to discover they were no longer covered for liability, and they called the council to fix it.

“Unfortunately council has done very little to deal with and resolve these very serious issues since they were highlighted earlier this year,” the departing licence holders wrote to council last week.

“We reluctantly have no other option but to immediately withdraw our properties from community access as part of the Old Beechy Rail Trail.

“Our sincere hope is that council will again honour the original agreements and that these closures are only temporary,” they said.

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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