$2-million pledge for safer places

But promise fails to provide certainty

A $2-million funding boost for Neighbourhood Safer Places has failed to provide certainty for Otways residents.

THE STATE Government has set aside more than $2 million for bushfire safer places in the Otways.

But towns could lose their native trees to meet safety rules.

The cash promise has failed to provide certainty for Otways residents, with strict guidelines and vegetation removal likely to disrupt plans.

Barwon Downs, Carlisle River and Forrest are first on the list for consideration, with further funding available for Neighbourhood Safer Places at Kawarren and Barongarook.

The government has pledged $718,000 to establish a safer place at Carlisle River, $600,534 for Forrest and $94,701 for Barwon Downs.

Government officials also flagged $602,115 for an NSP at Wye River Surf Lifesaving Club, but Colac Otway Shire Council rejected the funding because the building failed to meet criteria in its municipal NSP plan.

Colac Otway Shire mayor Brian Crook

The council said the lifesaving club was inappropriate because it would have to remain open 24 hours a day during bushfire seasons and the removal of surrounding vegetation could cause landslips and erosion.

Shire mayor Brian Crook said the building was also too small to support almost 5000 people who flocked to the coastal town during summer.

He said the council had to follow strict protocol when investigating possible NSP sites.

“We recognise that the process moves slowly, but the last thing we would want to do is to establish an NSP in the wrong place and put people’s lives at further risk, “ Cr Crook said.

The council’s plans for NSP sites will go to the Municipal Association of Victoria and the state Fire Service Commissioner for approval, before a further report goes back to the council for consideration.

“Council will give the community an opportunity to comment on these proposals, because there may be a lot of vegetation removal required, which will impact on the character of these towns,” Cr Crook said.

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