With the Richmond Valley local government area suffering from the worst bush fire season in living memory, Mayor Robert Mustow is calling for the Federal and State governments to step up action to combat the future impacts of climate change.
In a mayoral minute tabled for the Council meeting of Tuesday 17 December, Cr Mustow will note that almost 50 percent of the Richmond Valley local government area is now fire affected.
“With excess fuel loads, extremely dry conditions, and consistently above average temperatures, it’s no surprise the Richmond Valley has been subject to two major bush fire disasters this season,” Cr Mustow said.
The Busbys Flat Road bush fire, which burned more than 48,000ha, destroyed 42 homes and 88 outbuildings, with a further 13 homes and 34 outbuildings sustaining damage in the blaze.
The Myall Creek Road bush fire, which is still burning, has so far burned more than 118,000ha, and destroyed 18 homes and 84 outbuildings in the Richmond Valley local government area, as well as damaging a further 10 homes and 31 outbuildings.
“These fires have had a devastating impact on our community, with the recovery process likely to be measured in years rather than months or weeks,” Cr Mustow said.
“We all know Australia is prone to bush fires, but we also know that predicted climate change means extreme events including drought, floods, and rising sea levels along our coast are likely to be more common.
“Such disasters would not only put our community’s safety at risk, but also increase the burden on Council of repairing or replacing damaged and destroyed property and infrastructure.
“As a result, we are asking the Federal and State governments to take further steps to address the impacts of climate change, and urging our local Members of Parliament to lead and support our local communities in tackling these impacts.
“As a responsible council, we want to work proactively with both governments to do this.”
Cr Mustow said Richmond Valley Council had an active environmental charter which was committed to the long-term care of the environment and acknowledged the impacts of climate change as a global issue to which Council needed to plan for.
He said Council was joining more than 70 Australian councils which had resolved in different ways to seek a similar commitment from the State and Federal governments on the issue.
“Under our Richmond Valley Made 2030 Community Strategic Plan, developed in close consultation with our community, Council has made it a priority to promote the protection of the environment and provide services and programs to enhance our natural environment,” Cr Mustow said.
“Now is the time to emphasise that Council is very concerned by the impacts of climate change and to seek increased commitment to dealing with this serious global issue by our NSW and Federal governments.”