Fighting for community safety

Paul Cochrane and Susan Hotton of Yarra Waterways Group fear increased bushfire risks. 191464_01

By Michael Doran

The Yarra Waterways Group are so concerned about the increased bushfire risk in the region that last week they placed a Public Notice in this newspaper to inform the community about the issue.

Chairperson of the local community group, Susan Hotton of Yarra Junction, said the public notice was to tell the relevant authorities and ministers they would be held accountable for their inaction.

“In February we sent a letter out to the minister of environment, minister for planning, the heads of DELWP, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria and other relevant people,” she said. “We advised we were holding them responsible if anything happens because of increased bushfire risk in the Upper Yarra Valley from the planned revegetation of the waterways.”

The Yarra Waterways Group has been going for four years and has more than 200 members. The group was formed in response to the push to extend the contentious Yellingbo Conservation Area (YCA) further into the Upper Yarra Valley, a move they believe unacceptably increases the bushfire risk to residents.

“We sent a petition with more than 1300 signatures to the minister of environment and she acknowledged that there is a problem in this area due to high bushfire risk and adjusted the revegetation zone back to within 10 metres of the water.

“The next step would be if the government will confirm the 10 metre revegetation zone with the balance of the crown land to go back to the landowners to take care of,” Mrs Hotton said. “It will bring that vegetation and the bushfire risk down to an acceptable level for the landowners and community in the area.”

“Our main aim is to continue doing our maintenance and clearing work as we have always done,” she said. “That will achieve the least fire risk to this area.

In terms of getting a response, she said what the group wants is to be involved in the process and for “the powers that be to understand that a lot of people around here are extremely worried about what is happening in the area.

“I want them to get in touch with our group because we need to start some sort of dialogue happening,” she said. “Landowners need be involved in the process because we have a lot to contribute and this is something that directly affects our safety.”

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