Australia — Three South Gippsland communities identified as high risk bushfire areas by the 2009 Royal Bushfire Commission have missed out on securing a Neighbourhood Safer Place (NSP).
The South Gippsland Shire Council has decided to stop investigating sites for Waratah Bay, Venus Bay and Walkerville because none meet the Country Fire Authority’s requirements.
An NSP will be set up at the Sandy Point community centre because the Fire Services Commissioner has allocated funding of more than $500,000 to upgrade the facility.
However, shire chief executive Tim Tamlin says there is no money on the table to upgrade facilities at the other three towns.
“If people choose to leave early, that’s probably the best bet, just to get right out of the whole area if there is an imminent danger,” he said.
“So having a good plan, well thought through of how to act, not leave it to the last minute and become reactive … instead of proactive would be the way forward.”
The owner of Venus Bay General Store, David Liebelt, says he hopes the council reconsiders its decision.
He says the passage of time makes it easy for people to forget the real danger of bushfires.
“I think it’s essential we’d have a Neighbourhood Safer Place, a coastal environment like this, where there’s a lot of vegetation around all of the houses, and we’ve got the coastal park on our boundary,” he said.
“It’s critical for a place like Venus Bay, particularly given the number of elderly residents that live here.”