Native veg review needed: Pengilly

Royal Bushfire Commission: Native veg review needed: Pengilly


KI mayor Michael Pengilly is hopeful of for a review of the Native Vegetation Act 1991.


WITH the Royal Bushfire Commission continuing to conduct interviews this week and the SA inquiry nearing completion, Kangaroo Island mayor Michael Pengilly hopes the message for a review of the Native Vegetation Act 1991 comes through "loud and clear".

KI Council chief executive officer Greg Georgopoulos and technical programs manager John Fernandez gave evidence about land clearing to the Royal Commission on Monday.

Mr Fernandez told the commission that restrictions on land clearing were more heavily weighted toward ecology than safety.

"The parliament has to review the native veg act - this cannot be allowed to happen again," Mr Pengilly said in reference to the devastating summer bushfires on KI, which took the lives of two people and burned through about 211,000 hectares or nearly half of the island.

"We have given our thoughts on the lack of management in national parks and forestry on the island, including the lack of burns and lack of maintenance, while forestry and roadside vegetation were an incendiary device during the fires.

"People have had enough of the bureaucracy. They want to be able to put decent boundary breaks in and better protect their properties - common sense had gone out the door and now is the time to fix that."

Mr Pengilly said the rebuild effort was gearing up on the island, after some initial delays with debris removal, with a lot of fencing and restocking undertaken.

BlazeAid recently celebrated surpassing the 500-kilometre re-fencing milestone on KI, but PIRSA estimates there is nearly 5500km of fencing in the burned area that could have been affected.

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"There is still so much more to do," Mr Pengilly said.

"We have seen a few sheds and a small amount of houses go back up, but the majority of the rebuild is still to come."

Overall, nearly 120 dwellings were lost in the fires.

Mr Pengilly expects only about half will be rebuilt.

"About 20 of those were within plantation areas, while some weren't insured enough or they have plans to relocate," he said.

"Some are also only just working through rebuild plans, people who just haven't had the time to consider house plans until now.

"We have been trying to approve house plan applications as soon as possible, some are happening within a week. We don't want to see hold-ups in this part of the process, so if anyone is having any problems, we need them to contact council."

The council has received 37 shed and 24 house rebuild applications so far, which Mr Pengilly says will be approved.

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