City of Busselton waits for bushfire risk funding

The City of Busselton will have to wait on funding for a bushfire management plan after the state government allocated funds to other high-risk bushfire areas.

Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan announced that $1.4 million would be given to 15 local governments which had an endorsed bushfire risk management plan to treat bushfire risks across their communities.

Despite being a high-risk bushfire area, the city was not eligible to apply for a grant in the first round of funding because it was not included in the initial program.

A spokesperson from the minister’s office said additional funding to include Busselton was announced last September.

“Those plans involved a great deal of work. As a guide, the first 15 local governments took up their funding in 2014/15 and are now at the treatment stage,” the spokesperson said.

City of Busselton manager environmental services Tanya Gillett said an employee which is shared across the shires of Augusta Margaret River and Nannup commenced last year to compile the city’s plan.

Ms Gillett said the position was funded until June 30 but they were hoping it would be extended through the next financial year to complete all the elements in the plan.

The city’s reserve fire management plan has been in place since 2009, with Ms Gillett stating the document identified which areas were due for treatment and what was planned on a recurrent basis.

“Once the city’s bushfire risk management plan is completed, it will identify treatment areas by way of risks to identified assets and in consideration of elements such as the location of  human settlements, cultural, environmental and economic values. 

“This funding will assist the city to fast track the management of identified higher risk areas.”

South West MP Steve Thomas said the region was more at risk of bushfires and major impacts including the loss of houses and lives more than any other area in WA.

Mr Thomas said the South West contained the vast majority of state forest where bushfires could have the biggest impact and had the greatest population in a high risk bushfire zone.

“The South West is full of houses surrounded by forest so there is no greater risk area in WA,” he said.

“For example, up North massive areas get burnt out, largely they just wait for it to burn out because the population is so small.

“We have a big at risk population in a very high risk area and the City of Busselton has areas which are particularly high-risk, especially the area from Dunsborough to Yallingup, through those coastal scrubs.”

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