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CARDINIA Shire Council has briefly released a new version of its Open Air Burning Policy (March 2016) for community comment.
It wants to permit burning off 24 hours, yes all day and night, on Friday, Saturday and Monday.
Councillors state this is to increase residents’ feeling of safety. Yet this policy threatens the safety and wellbeing of our community in a number of ways.
A key call out time for the fire brigade has become around dusk as people go indoors leaving fires unsupervised due the last extension of burning off hours to daylight hours; 24 hour burning off is predicted to increase this hazard.
Smoke is held close to the ground by cold air inversion which is why burning off hours were restricted to 9-5pm previously.
The serious health hazards of wood and vegetation (biomass) smoke are known by medical experts, but not well understood by the community.
If council really wants its community to be safe then returning to 9-5pm burning off Thursday to Saturday is the least they can do as we have limited control over the air we and our children breathe.
They already have a solution for those who have no alternatives for fire prevention, with free permits available to burn off when needed outside regulation hours.
Restricting smoke will encourage more outdoor physical activity and greater wellbeing as people enjoy the outdoor environment they live here for.
If you believe council’s duty of care clearly lies with protecting our safety, health and wellbeing, speak up as your councillors currently believe this latest proposal is the best they can do.
Submissions close 5pm on 19 April (see council’s website for details).
Kate Forster,
Emerald.

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