Burnoff compensation query for farmers

LANDOWNERS near Deans Marsh say they are worried they will not receive compensation if burnoffs destroy their properties or produce.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment has scheduled a burnoff at View Hill, near Deans Marsh, which could start as early as this month.

Residents have met with DSE workers about the burnoff, claiming the burn would be in impenetrable bush where logs could smoulder for months.

The group will meet DSE workers again on Friday to discuss their concerns about a lack of compensation if the burn got out of control.

Deans Marsh grape growers have also spoken out against the burn, claiming smoke from the burn could destroy their crops.

They say they would prefer the burn to happen after they harvested their grapes.

Bambra-Boonah Road resident Jacqueline Zakharia said she welcomed the second meeting with DSE workers.

“The planned burn is in very difficult terrain and our fear is that it could get out of control quite easily,” Ms Zacharia said.

“The little information we’ve managed to get from the DSE says that they don’t have a policy for compensating people for damage to their properties or livestock, instead we would basically have to sue them and who can afford that?”

“They basically want us to be relying on insurance, but that means we incur costs for increasing premiums,” she said.

DSE Otways district manager Andrew Morrow said the State Government would replace destroyed fences.

“The repair of fences damaged by bushfire and fire control line rehabilitation policy states that the Victorian Government will pay the cost of asset restoration if fences are destroyed or damaged by planned burns on public land escaping onto private land,” Mr Morrow said.

“Planned burning will always have risks, but with careful planning, preparation and management led by experienced staff, few burns cause problems,” he said.

Mr Morrow said the DSE had a “statutory responsibility” to fulfil its planned burning program.

“The planned burn between Dean’s Marsh and Boonah is a key strategic burn to protect towns like Aireys Inlet and Anglesea from bushfire if there was a south-westerly wind change,” Mr Morrow said.

“It will also offer protection from bushfires from the north that start in the grasslands and head towards Lorne.”

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