The State Liberals are demanding the Weatherill Government clears the backlog of prescribed burns in South Australia, ensuring the Riverland and Mallee are well prepared before another sweltering summer arrives.
During a recent Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee hearing, the Environment Department revealed that only 38 per cent of prescribed burns were undertaken in autumn 2017 with just 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.
“This failure to complete prescribed burns could put lives at risk and properties in danger in the Riverland and Mallee,” Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone said.
“Residents in the region would be outraged to know that the Weatherill Government isn’t keeping up with crucial prescribed burns.
“It is critical that the Environment Department has the resources necessary to complete these prescribed burns.”
The Environment Department website shows there are no scheduled prescribed burns for the Riverland with just 1.3 hectares burnt off in the Murray River National Park between Berri and Loxton last week. In the Mallee, two burn offs in the Ngarkat Conservation Park are proposed to reduce fuel load.
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,” Mr Whetstone said.
A recent report from the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) has revealed that a drier and warmer than usual winter has increased the bushfire risk in regions like the Riverland, the Clare Valley, Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island.
“The Riverland has been identified as a high risk area in this report due to a high build up of fuel loads,” Mr Whetstone said.
A bushfire in our region would be absolutely devastating for the local economy but more importantly it could put human life at risk."