Bushfire Royal Commission’s Comrie slams planned burns program

Bushfire Royal Commission’s Comrie slams planned burns program

14 August 2014

published by www.weeklytimesnow.com.au

Australia — THE Victorian Government will continue with its planned burning program despite repeated criticism from the man appointed to monitor it.

Bushfires Royal Commission implementation monitor Neil Comrie said it was his “strong belief” burning 390,000ha of public land in any one year was “ not achievable”.

His criticism was contained in his yearly assessment of the Government’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

A wet autumn meant the Government fell far behind its aim last financial year, burning only 82,022ha against a target of 260,000ha.

Mr Comrie said the funded target for this year was 275,000ha “which is still well short of that commitment” to reach 390,000ha. He said in the five years since 2009, on average, about 170,000ha had been burned annually.

Mr Comrie has advocated the Government reconsider the planned burning rolling target of 5 per cent and replace it with a “risk-based approach focused on the protection of life and property”.

He said area-based hectare targets alone would not necessarily reduce the bushfire risk to life and property in Victoria “and may have adverse environmental outcomes”.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Ryan Smith said the Government was committed to the planned burn program.

“To achieve this, this Government will always consider best practice, latest science, technology and expert advice to make sure Victorian communities are protected and that the risk of bushfire is reduced,” he said.

Mr Smith said in the past four years more than 723,395ha of planned burns on public land had been carried out. He said the Government’s $358 million for the program had helped cut the bushfire risk.

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