Brumby to give owners right to clear bush property

   Brumby to give owners right to clear bush property

21 August 2009

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Australia — Landowners will get greater powers to fell trees and clear scrub from their properties as the state prepares for the coming fire season.

Changes to vegetation policy were being made to give landowners more control to clear the land around their properties, Premier John Brumby said.

“It’ll shift the balance more towards landowners,” he said.

“They need some increased rights to make sure they can make their state safe and make their homes safe.

“At the same time we’ve got to appreciate in areas like this (Dandenong Ranges) people come to live in areas like this because they are beautiful, stunning areas.

“Yes, there are a lot of trees and there’s a lot of undergrowth, but we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Restrictions on the ability to clear land and minimise fuel loads have frustrated home owners in recent fire seasons.

Mr Brumby last night met councillors from across the state to discuss the interim report from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

High on the agenda was the issue of land clearing and vegetation policy.

Mr Brumby gave the Municipal Association of Victoria $500,000 to help prepare township protection plans. There are just 68 days until the next fire season.

Independent MP Craig Ingram has been a long-time campaigner for changes to vegetation policy and welcomed Mr Brumby’s statement.

“Our native vegetation policy has been a disaster,” he said.

“As a matter of principle Mr Brumby’s broad statement is more in line with where we need to go, but the devil’s in the detail so we’ll have to wait and see the finished product.

“The balance has swung too far towards the environment and it needs to swing back to the middle again.”

Mr Brumby made a call to arms for all Victorians to start preparing their homes and businesses against fires, particularly those in the 52 hot spots named this week.

He said fire action week would happen from October 11-18, but he urged everyone to battle complacency and start working right away.

“It’s critical that all Victorians, no matter where they live, are ready for the bushfire season ahead,” he said.

“After 13 years of drought (it) is shaping to be worse than the horrific season we’ve just experienced – and it’s only 69 days away.”

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