BY ANDREA KELLETT
2 Nov 2009
THE State Government has taken unprecedented action to give Frankston landowners the power to clear fire hazards near their houses without a permit.
Local Government Minister Richard Wynne revoked Frankston Council’s tree protection local law last Tuesday on the eve of Victoria’s bushfire season.
That means the local law no longer applies and the Government’s new land-clearing law - the 10/30 Right - is now in place in Frankston.
‘The “bulldozer solution” of clearing large tracts of bush to reduce the risk of bushfires will only compound the problem – by clearing the land, you get a hotter land surface, so bushfires will be more severe,’ said Dr McAlpine.
‘Rather, we need to restore and actively manage native forests and woodlands for the multiple ecosystem services they can provide.’
A recent Australian study suggests that land clearing over the past 200 years may have been as significant a factor in this country’s droughts and changing climate as increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
University of Queensland researchers have produced evidence for the possible link between land clearing and climate change in south-eastern Australia. The work is part of a broader climate modelling project – involving Land & Water Australia and the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence – being managed by Dr Clive McAlpine.
Dr McAlpine’s team have used the CSIRO MARK 3 climate model – the same one used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – to simulate the climate impacts of land clearing over the past 200 years.
MOORABOOL residents clearing their property for the impending fire season are being warned not to expose their homes to greater risk.
Kevin Tolhurst, senior lecturer in fire ecology and management at the University of Melbourne, has labelled as dangerous the new "10/30" land clearing right, which allows residents to clear vegetation, including trees, within 10 metres of their residence and ground fuel within 30 metres.
The new policy was announced in August, but Dr Tolhurst said it could be wrongly interpreted and lead people to clear everything on their property.
"Totally removing trees and some species of plants from your property can be counter-productive," he said last week. "The problem is, you're exposing your house to stronger winds and for embers to reach your property. Trees can shield a house from some radiation, slow down wind and reduce embers."
BY JASON GILLICK
FRANKSTON Council is defying the State Government's new laws aimed at reducing bushfire risk - the so-called '10/30 right' - claiming legal advice is that its local tree law overrides Victorian legislation.
The stand-off leaves Frankston landowners in limbo, with the council threatening to fine them for clearing their properties without a permit, which the Government says they can.
FRANKSTON councillors have decided against asking the State Government to exempt the municipality from the "10/30 right" that allows landowners to clear vegetation for bushfire protection around their homes.
Instead, they want the Government to modify the "10/30 right", forcing landowners to seek a permit before felling any large trees.
They also want legal advice over what effect the new rules have on existing tree protection laws.Frankston has been rated by the CFA as being "low fire risk".
An officers' report to councillors recommending Frankston be added to the 20 municipalities around Melbourne exempted from the "10/30 right" states indiscriminate clearing could lead to plummeting property prices and a drop in rate revenue.
The State Government planning amendment that overrides all planning controls came into effect this month and will be reviewed in August next year.
State Government wants to change the native vegetation protection rules to encourage householders to clear more trees from around their houses (Land-clearing laws to change in wake of fires, The Age, 24/2) yet paradoxically also proposes to release another 23,000 hectares of green wedge land for development, much of it in fire-prone pastures and woodlands.
SO MUCH talk. So little done. So few days to the next fire season and the only substantial measure in place from the Government has been the ''10/30'' land-clearing provisions overriding conservation zones, overlays and heritage controls across my municipality and 10 others in outer-urban ''green wedges''.
RESIDENTS and councils will be left to fight it out under the State Government’s new land-clearing law.