Post-bushfire petition will be heard

THE Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council is expected to receive a 152-signature petition regarding environmental restoration after the November 2011 bushfires, despite its not complying with all the shire’s petition requirements.

The Why Action Group of Margaret River submitted the petition asking that the shire commence dune restoration in bushfire-affected areas, and to seek costs for such works from the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Shire staff have recommended that the council receive the petition and continue to seek financial assistance.

The petition, provided to the shire president on February 20, does not comply with the required format, for reasons including that it does not contain the date of the signatories, and does not contain a summary of the reasons for the request.

“Notwithstanding these issues, it is recommended that Council note the petition,” the report to council stated. “No mechanism exists for the shire to recover costs from the (DEC) for environmental restoration works. (However) a series of grant applications and requests for funding has been submitted by shire staff to state and federal government, industry and benevolent groups.”

After the fires, the shire staff formed a committee for environmental restoration, comprising shire staff, the DEC, and groups including the Margaret River Coastal Residents Association, the Cape to Cape Catchments Group and the South West Catchment Council.

Works undertaken by the committee to date include temporary and permanent fencing, stair replacement, and weed and rabbit control.

“The shire is working collaboratively with the DEC who are preparing a rehabilitation plan for fire affected areas including shire lands,” the report to council stated.

The funding shortfall will be considered in the midyear budget review.