On 31st January this year I wrote to the minister on behalf of the Warneet Association regarding its request for urgent assistance with clearing high fuel loads of vegetation at the Warneet Nature Reserve.
The minister responded saying that the Warneet Nature Reserve is managed by Parks Victoria and that it delivers the fuel management program with Forest Fire Management Victoria, which incorporates DELWP, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and VicForests. The Minister stated that the fuel management program also included an annual slashing program for establishing fuel breaks surrounding the reserve.
The minister also stated that Forest Fire Management Victoria was working with the Warneet Association to arrange a meeting for the last week of March 2020 between Forest Fire Management Victoria, the CFA, Victoria Police and City of Casey representatives to allow Warneet and Cannons Creek residents to raise fuel load concerns.
I am advised that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this meeting did not proceed.
The coastal villages of Warneet, Blind Bight and Cannons Creek rely entirely on one road in and out to escape bushfires. Because of the local geography fires can sweep across the villages from several directions at the same time. A fire occurring while there is such a heavy fuel load surrounding these villages would have catastrophic potential.
On behalf of the coastal villages communities, I now seek urgent information from the minister regarding immediate and significant local fuel load reduction.