Anger at fire hazard

Cobaw resident Kate Young stands in the long dry grass along her fenceline on Three Chain Road, which the council has failed to slash.

Long dry grass left from the edge of Three Chain Road in Cobaw to a property fenceline, after the rest of the roadside had been slashed, has angered the resident who has to live by it in fear it is a major fire hazard.

“Council was late slashing the sides of Three Chain Road this season. They didn’t get around to it until well into the fire season in February,” Kate Young said.

“I have lived here for well over 20 years and the areas at the front of my house between my property fence and the roadside have always been done.”

The council advised Ms Young that this season, “possibly due to the amount of rain and subsequent growth”, a number of additional native flora sites had been identified.

“Our contractors were asked to cease works along Three Chain Road until full assessment had taken place,” the council said.

“This assessment was undertaken by our Environment Team and has now been completed.

“The contractor was advised that works could continue. Those works should now be completed with the exception of areas that, if not slashed, it’s likely because of native grasses and other flora.”

Ms Young said it was “just crap” that the council had identified the front of her property as native grass and flora.

“It’s a school bus stop area, a very busy pull-over stop on weekends by visitors to the region and of course a fire hazard,” she said.

“There is a power pole there, which presents a fire hazard in itself.”

Ms Young asked why this year would be any different to others in the past 20 or so.

“The grass has always been slashed, it’s always grown back, so what’s the harm?” she asked.

Ms Young pointed out that in the council’s 2018 Three Chain Road Fire Risk Mitigation Action Plan, it is stated that: (Three Chain Road) “is a highly trafficked road with 850 to 1000 vehicle movements on average each day. This places the road as high risk for ignition from vehicles”.

Council advised the Express that its roadside conservation management program aimed to protect important ecological values found within the road reserve while ensuring appropriate fire-risk mitigation and maintenance of road safety.

“Three Chain Road contains areas of environmental significance that provide habitat for a range of fauna species (birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs) and remnant native vegetation. Site assessments indicate that up to 216 native indigenous plants were found along the 22 kilometres of Three Chain Road,” a council spokesperson said.

The spokesperson explained that the vegetation along the section of roadside outside Ms Young’s property was classified as part of council’s roadside assessments as ‘high’ and ‘medium’, which was recommended to receive a three-metre-wide roadside slash.

While the roadside has received a full slash in the past, over the summer of 2022 a significant swath of native grasses and orchids were identified, the council said.