Gibson farmer takes Esperance Shire to Supreme Court

Photos: Supplied and Jesinta Burton.
Photos: Supplied and Jesinta Burton.

A Gibson farmer is suing the Shire of Esperance, claiming 'negligent' road works undertaken by the shire destroyed his crops and damaged his land.

Crop farmer Nils Blumann and the shire will have a case management conference next month, before a Supreme Court trial from July 22 to 30.

The minimum claim in the Supreme Court is $750,000, however neither party would disclose the amount sought.

Court documents obtained by The Express reveal Mr Blumann is claiming shire works in March, 2016 led to flooding and damage to his property, which is adjacent to the reserves of Blumann and Campbell Roads, and south of the reserve of Gibson Road.

He claims shire works, including resurfacing, widening, raising the level of the roads and installing additional culverts at various points, changed the natural catchments of the road and flow-lines from the roads.

He further alleges the shire did not take measures to protect adjoining farmland or to stop more flooding.

Mr Blumann's lawyer Glen McLeod alleged the land between his client's property and Gibson Road suffered flooding, soil erosion, scouring and water logging and that his crops were ruined.

"Prior to the works being carried out, rainwater generally flowed evenly and in a dispersed manner from the roads without causing damage to the land," Mr McLeod said in the documents.

"On at least five separate occasions between 8 June 2016 and 10 February 2017, rainfall caused water to accumulate on Gibson Road and divert from Gibson Road to adjacent land, including [Mr Blumann's] land."

Mr Blumann wants the shire to alter the works and claims the shire intends to continue wrongfully diverting water on to his land in times of rainfall, which will then result in more scouring and flood damage.

Mr McLeod said in the documents the damage was caused by "the negligence" of the shire and its employees in designing and carrying out the works.

Mr Blumann claims he will continue to suffer further loss and damage following rainfall events, rendering his land unfit for growing traditional grain crops unless the works are modified.

He is seeking a permanent injunction to stop the shire from diverting rain run-off from Gibson Road on to adjacent lands and to require the shire to "make good and reconstruct Gibson Road" to stop further damage.

Mr Blumann is seeking damages, interest on damages since June 2016, costs and any other order the court deems just.

Shire chief executive officer Matthew Scott said he respected Mr Blumann's right to have the claim examined in court. Mr Blumann declined to comment.