Piles of debris pushed up against private property fence lines after roadside clearing has been labelled “habitat” by the State Labor Government, which refuses to remove the obvious fire risk.
Having campaigned for the roadside debris to be cleared, Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said he was initially pleased to see work had started, but is appalled by this element of the outcome.
“What they have done is made the vertical fuel load a horizontal one and to state this is in line with the ‘Wildlife Management Plan relating to fauna habitat protection’.
“We have some property owners who were hit hard by the 2019/20 fires and have now had massive piles of flammable debris pushed up against their fence line. Did this government learn nothing from the last fire event, where these roadsides acted as wicks?
“In the Minister’s response she said ‘I am advised from a bushfire perspective, the primary contributors to bushfire behaviour and the main drivers of bushfire forward rates of spread and radiant heat output are fine fuels, which are fuels less than 6mm in diameter. At least 50% of the larger branches and logs – those greater than 10cm in diameter – at this location were required to be retained and positioned into non-impacted habitat near the clearance site. The placement of these logs and debris was done in conjunction with the zoologist onsite, is away from residential properties, and abuts the state forest.’
“I simply make two points. The debris is in very close proximity to private freehold and the Minister seems to show no understanding that a fire in these large logs will not only increase its intensity but can burn for weeks and then be the cause of reignition in the right conditions.
“I have no doubt that in a perfect world it may be good habitat for animals, but human life and wellbeing must be the priority in every decision and this has not occurred here.
“It should not matter what a zoologist thinks is good habitat, the bottom line is it has created a fuel load near private residences that should be removed – end of story.”