’The CFA is ‘‘concerned’’ by Moira Shire Council’s recent decision to reject responsibility for issuing permits to burn to farmers during the Fire Danger Period.
The decision means the CFA will be responsible for issuing permits to all farmers in the Moira Shire area.
A CFA spokesperson said they were concerned about the potential impacts the decision would have on the community, namely farmers not being able to burn stubble legally.
Moira Shire chief executive officer Mark Henderson said the council had no responsibility to issue permits and while the CFA Act 1958 stipulated councils had discretionary power to issue permits, they were not obliged to exercise this power.
‘‘The CFA are experts — we’re not,’’ Mr Henderson said.
‘‘If we can’t genuinely assess the risk, we don’t want to issue the permit.’’
Mr Henderson believed, particularly since the 2009 bushfires, the procedure for permits to burn as outlined in the CFA Act needed to be updated because of the risky nature of issuing permits.
‘‘The council has looked at those risk aspects and decided not to expose itself and ratepayers to that risk.’’
Last week, Moira Shire Mayor Gary Cleveland said the officers in Cobram and Yarrawonga were not in a position to appropriately assess the risk to the local communities across such a vast region.
Mr Henderson said while the council supported farmers in managing their land, burning-off should only be executed when appropriate.
He predicted other councils would follow Moira’s decision and he hoped the council would soon begin consultations with the CFA to establish a better system before farmers start requesting permits to burn.
The CFA has committed to exploring alternatives.
‘‘CFA will examine all options to resolve this matter and will consult with the shire, the farming community, CFA brigades, Local Government Victoria and Municipal Association of Victoria,’’ a CFA spokesperson said.
■For more information about where to apply for a permit, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/fire-permits/ or phone the CFA District Office in Shepparton on 58332400 or CFA headquarters on 92628444.