New law puts out smoky burns

New law puts out smoky burns

17June 2008

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A NEW council law is set to relieve the smoke haze in the hills during winter.

The Yarra Ranges Council’s open air burning local law comes into effect on July 1 and will ban burning in June and July in residential bushland areas. It also bans Sunday burning all year round throughout the shire, regardless of whether ratepayers live on urban, bushland or rural properties.

The restrictions only apply to residents, with fire authorities and the Department of Sustainability and Environment exempt. But DSE spokeswoman Michelle Atkinson said her organisation didn’t conduct winter back-burning in the hills anyway.

“Conditions in winter are generally too wet and cold for effective fuel reduction,” Ms Atkinson said.

Sassafras-Ferny Creek CFA captain John Schauble said residential burning at the wettest time of the year had become a major issue.

“People do try to burn off during the winter months,” Mr Schauble said. “It’s a bit wetter then and all they manage to do is create extra smoke. It (winter) is not a very efficient time to burn.”

Streeton Ward councillor Noel Cliff said the new law didn’t neglect the important role back-burning played in preventing bushfires.

“The new local law provides a better balance between managing fire risk and addressing environmental and health issues,” he said.

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