Prescribed burn backlog a bushfire risk

FIRE: A fire in the Ngarkat Conservation Park in 2014.
FIRE: A fire in the Ngarkat Conservation Park in 2014.

Tatiara locals are being warned to brace for potential bush fire risks if the state government is not able to clear the backlog of prescribed burns in the district.

The State Liberals are demanding the Weatherill Government clears the backlog of prescribed burns in the State’s South East before another sweltering summer arrives.

The Environment Department website shows there are three prescribed burns to be completed this year around the electorate of MacKillop and the South East region, totalling 855ha.

During a Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee hearing, the Environment Department revealed that only 38 per cent of prescribed burns were undertaken in autumn 2017 with only 20 of 53 prescribed burns completed across the state.

The remaining burns have been deferred to the 2017-18 period with the backlog of prescribed burns for this period sky rocketing to 97 across South Australia.

“The Weatherill Government’s failure to complete prescribed burns could put lives at risk and properties in danger in the South East,” said Liberal candidate for MacKillop Nick McBride.

“Residents in high bushfire risk areas in the South East would be outraged to know that the Weatherill Government isn’t keeping up with crucial prescribed burns.

“The 855ha of prescribed burns around Bangham and Ngarkat must be completed before summer arrives.

“The Weatherill Government must ensure that the Environment Department has the resources necessary to complete these prescribed burns.

“The website also shows that only one prescribed burn has been completed for the spring 2017 period with 28 scheduled before South Australia’s dangerously hot summer arrives.

“South Australia is no stranger to the devastation of bushfires and prescribed burns are the first line of defence against the destruction of bushfires.

“We only have to look back a few years to the Pinery and Sampson Flat bushfires which destroyed thousands of properties and tragically took lives.

“A bushfire in the South East would be absolutely devastating for the local economy but more importantly it could put human life at risk.”

A recent report from the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre has revealed that a drier and warmer than usual winter has increased the bushfire risk across many regions in South Australia.