Fired up about Apollo Bay fire risk

Alan Hopkinson wants action on a potential grass-fire hazard next door to his Apollo Bay home.

APOLLO BAY’S Alan Hopkinson says he is angry that authorities allow a neighbouring property to grow a fire risk.

Mr Hopkinson said he had contacted Colac Otway Shire Council every spring for the past five years to complain about an unmaintained neighbouring property in Campbell Court.

“But this year it’s worse than other years; the grass is about 1.6 metres high and the CFA has been warning everyone of the dangers of grass fires this year,” he said.

“And there’s snakes and rats as well as the fire risk.

“We get copperheads and brown snakes and I’ve seen them in there when I’ve mowed a strip along my fence-line.

“What really frustrates me is that the owners of the block live in Melbourne and council gives them a notice to cut the grass every year; they know it’s a problem,” Mr Hopkinson said.

“Then they cut it just before Christmas and the grass just gets left there; which is fire fuel anyway.”

Mr Hopkinson said a nearby vacant subdivision with long grass further fuelled his anger.

“This is suburbia and the CFA has been stating it’s a bad year for grass fires,” he said.

“I have suggested the council send out fire prevention notices early so they have to comply by November 1,” Mr Hopkinson said.

“Would council allow 1.6-metre high grass out the front of its offices?”

But the council’s sustainable planning and development manager Jack Green said he believed the council had a “good strategic approach to fire inspections”, with officers inspecting 9000 properties and issuing more than 500 notices a year.

Council sustainable planning and development general manager Jack Green.

“Mr Hopkinson has contacted council on numerous occasions in past years regarding the same fire issues,” Mr Green said.

“The neighbouring property in question normally does receive a fire prevention notice to cut their grass to 100 millimetres.

“The owners have always complied and have never received a penalty infringement notice,” he said.

“At the present time the landowners at this address are still within their compliance timeframe and until that has ended council is unable to enforce the fire prevention notice,” he said.

“Council cannot start fire inspections until the beginning of the fire danger period because notices would have no legal standing until the fire danger period is in force.”

Mr Green said the council officers would check the Apollo Bay blocks and send in contractors to properties that did not comply with fire prevention notices.

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