Fire breaks to remain as tax breaks kick in

Fire breaks to remain as tax breaks kick in

6 January 2007

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Albury, New South Wales, Australia — Water catchments will be protected with new fire breaks and employers of volunteer firefighters will receive tax breaks in a double-pronged Victorian Government effort to assist crews battling fires across the state.

Acting Premier John Thwaites yesterday said a decade of drought and the threat of climate change meant permanent fire breaks were needed.

A 40m wide containment line from Eildon to Erica built during the December fires will be permanently maintained, with new fire breaks to be built around assets including the Upper Yarra Reservoir, Mr Thwaites said.

They will be built by the Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment to reduce the risk of vegetation loss in catchments from fires and contamination of water from soil erosion in follow-up rains, he said.

Permanent fire breaks have been trialled in the Otway Ranges to protect coastal towns including Lorne and Anglesea, and will be extended this year, he said.

Permanent fire breaks also will be considered in other parts of the state.

“In the past, what we have done at the end of the season is reinstate the control lines and revegetate them,” he said.

Mr Thwaites also announced payroll tax breaks would be available to employers of CFA and State Emergency Service volunteers who, he said, needed support to help them allow workers to volunteer for fire duty.

Firefighters, meanwhile, brought two fires under control, while a third is causing concern.

A 1200ha grass fire at Yambuk, near Port Fairy, and another blaze at the Arthurs Seat State Park on the Mornington Peninsula are now contained.

But DSE chief fire officer Ewan Waller said firefighters were concerned another blaze in forest at Boulder Creek, east of Orbost, could jump the Princes Highway and threaten private property.

Commercial timber assets and townships including Bemm River, Cape Conran and Cann River were on alert, Mr Waller said.

“It’s in very difficult country, very fiery country — the most fiery country in Victoria, actually — so it will take all our skill to hang on to that fire with the weather coming,” Mr Waller said.

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