Peter Ewing and his wife Marie survey the damage on their Mortlake property after a DSE burn raced out of control. 120223DW34 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE CAPTION farm on Hamilton hwy near Mortlake was burnt after fire yesterday pictured are DSE members spot firingA MORTLAKE farmer who had fences destroyed in a Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) burn says any sympathy from the state government minister responsible for the department means little unless the rules are changed.
Nanjing Night Net

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said in a letter to The Standard he wanted to express his understanding and sympathy for the anxiety that the recent planned burn breach caused members of the local community last week.

Sheep farmer Peter Ewing lost three kilometres of fencing and said Mr Smith’s word meant nothing because the DSE needed to change the way it conducts its burns.

“The way they conduct their burns is pretty despicable,” he said.

“In the past the authority on whether they can conduct their burns has come from the CFA captain.

“The whole government and the rules they go by have to change.

“It’s one rule for private landholders and one rule for the DSE. There rules are inadequate.”

Mr Ewing has about 296 hectares and said he wanted to give credit to the generosity of the DSE in terms of what fences they were going to replace.

“But let’s go back a step this shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

In his letter, Mr Smith said the DSE had begun an analysis of the planned burn to identify what contributed to the problems with this burn.

“DSE staff who conduct these burns are both experienced and committed and, of course, the lessons learnt from this breach will be used to improve the burning program into the future,” he said.

“DSE carry out planned burns only when weather conditions are assessed as being suitable. However, as this Mortlake planned burn breach shows, burning will always have risks.”

The planned burn, in the Thulborn Road area, west of Mortlake, burnt 316 hectares, 60 of which belonged to Mr Ewing. Firefighters from the Country Fire Authority joined the DSE to bring the fire under control.

Last week Wooriwyrite CFA captain John Morrison said it was sheer good luck that nothing worse happened.

“It’s a joke that DSE is allowed to burn without a bare-earth firebreak,” he said.

“They were ill-prepared to light the fire and unable to control it.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.