Calls for fire breaks around every community
THE blaze which took Peregian Beach to the brink of disaster this week should serve as a wake-up call to the region, says Cr Christian Dickson.
The planning portfolio holder said the fire, which ravaged the beachside community, served as a timely reminder of the dangers facing many communities in the region.
Cr Dickson said he believed the community needed to start having discussions about fire management, and he was adamant there needed to be more fire breaks cut in around residential communities.
He said Sunshine Coast Council was often criticised for clearing trees, but he noted in the wake of the ferocious fire this week, there were calls from some for more clearing, to create more adequate fire breaks.
"We need to have a discussion about that," he said.
Cr Dickson said he believed there should be fire breaks around every housing estate in the region.
He said he'd previously written to firefighters and the State Government, seeking more breaks to be cut in his own electorate in areas like Sippy Downs, Brightwater and Mountain Creek, following calls from concerned residents.
"This is a wake-up call for everybody," he said.
"This is why council's been trying to consolidate development in Maroochydore and the Kawana town centre."
Cr Dickson said the Coast experienced fires on a regular basis, but luckily not all to the scale of the blaze that tore through Peregian Beach and surrounds earlier this week.
"I'm all for trees and all for the environment … but we also need some balance," he said.
"I think we need to take some learnings from this. It could've been a lot worse."
He praised the work of firefighters, police officers and volunteers, who prevented the Peregian Beach fire from becoming a disaster.
"Locals in my area are very concerned," he said.
"We need to make sure buffers are there.
"These are the types of discussions that we need to have.
"It shouldn't be a budgetary consideration, this is about people's lives."
Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokeswoman Narelle McCarthy said the location of future residential development, and potential fire dangers, needed to be taken into serious consideration.
She said infill development would go some way to reducing the push into greenfield sites, but there had to be sufficient buffers maintained between natural areas and housing developments.
"It's about future planning and looking at what legacy issues we're going to have, whether that be fire vulnerability or flood and inundation vulnerability," Ms McCarthy said.
"We need to look at what can be sustainably accommodated."
She felt developments near this week's fire, at Peregian Springs and Peregian Breeze, hadn't properly considered the natural constraints of the area.
She hoped the State Government and the council were closely considering environmental factors, including flood and fire risk, when weighing up future residential developments.
Ms McCarthy said events like this week's fires tended to heighten climate change recognition in the aftermath, and she hoped it would encourage direct policy action.
"These events are going to keep happening," she said.
"Catastrophic conditions are almost beyond control."