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Highway upgrade creating ‘sheer hell’ for farm family

SHODDY WORK: Louise and Rowan Porritt with their daughter Claire of Bangalow. Since the road to their farm was built, the creek stopped flowing and the new road already has deep cracks in it.
SHODDY WORK: Louise and Rowan Porritt with their daughter Claire of Bangalow. Since the road to their farm was built, the creek stopped flowing and the new road already has deep cracks in it.

LOUISE and Rowan Porritt thought they would be living the dream when they bought their Bangalow cattle farm in 2007.

Instead, their dream has turned to "sheer hell" as an ongoing battle with the Roads and Maritime Service over the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale highway upgrade takes its toll.

When a portion of their land was acquired in 2011 ahead of the T2E upgrade and compensation offered, the couple thought the worst of their problems were over. After months of uncertainty and negotiations, the Porritts believed a new road to be built on their property as part of their settlement would end the matter.

A year later we got the notice that our land was being acquired, and instead of our dream, it's been sheer hell for the past 18 months, with no end in sight.

However, the 1.1km road they were told would last 20 years - and were asked to pay $63,000 for - fell apart two weeks after it was constructed and now, 18 months later, is still not fixed.

"The road is too dangerous to drive on. There's a 200m long crack as deep as 50cm and there's the risk of a landslide," Mrs Porritt said.

The road across their property is among a raft of problems the Porritts are challenging the RMS over, including contamination of their land and water supply, injuries to themselves and livestock, disruptions to their business, and stress and anxiety.

The fight against government bungling has brought this young family to the end of their tether.

"We bought this property in 2007 to pursue our dreams of living off the land," Mrs Porritt said.

"A year later we got the notice that our land was being acquired, and instead of our dream, it's been sheer hell for the past 18 months, with no end in sight."

After the road was built, she said the first big rain delaminated the road and it began washing away. Fixing potholes took five months of negotiation and that new surface had also washed away, Mrs Porritt said.

"It has affected our business. It makes moving our livestock and trucks around so much harder - that road is the main artery through our farm."

Despite numerous visits from the contractors and RMS representatives, the road and water problems are still not fixed.

A representative said RMS had been "working with the property owners to offer a way forward and ensure their concerns are resolved as quickly as possible".

A schedule of work was being developed, the RMS representative said, and the original contractor, Lend Lease, would be directed to complete the work.

But the couple are not convinced. "We're sick of being strung along and fobbed off," Mrs Porritt said.

Topics:  environment livestock pacific highway