Vic govt moves to help to fix fences in fire-affected areas

Victorian govt to help to fix fences in fire-affected areas.

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Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull, pictured with Bushfire Recovery Victoria chairman Ken Lay, has called for vegetation clearance changes to protect newly-constructed exclusion fences from being damaged by falling trees.

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull, pictured with Bushfire Recovery Victoria chairman Ken Lay, has called for vegetation clearance changes to protect newly-constructed exclusion fences from being damaged by falling trees.

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The state government will help landholders in bushfire-affected communities repair damaged or destroyed fences between private land and national and state parks, and state forests.

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The Victorian state government will help landholders in bushfire-affected communities repair damaged or destroyed fences between private land and national and state parks, and state forests.

The funding gives farmers the flexibility to not just replace their boundary fences with a standard fence - as per the existing government program - but to upgrade them.

The government will pay half the cost of these boundary fencing upgrades, up to $5000 per kilometre.

The announcement was made in Bairnsdale last week by Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull. Premier Daniel Andrews was going to make the announcement, but couldn't because of a late change of plans.

Mr Bull said the cost of fencing was something he'd had ongoing discussions with the premier about.

"Fire recovery is all about building things bigger and better, and this funding of $5000 per kilometre for boundary fencing materials provides more support to not just replace boundary fences with a standard fence, but upgrade them, making them more fire-resistant with options for items like concrete posts and to a specification that will better allow for the exclusion of pests such as wild dogs," he said.

But Mr Bull said changes also needed to be made to vegetation guidelines where Crown land abutted freehold.

"Upgrading fences is one thing, but everywhere I go I am hearing about the need for more boundary fence line clearing," he said.

"It is okay having a Rolls Royce fence, but a tree or tree branch can bring it down and these dogs are opportunistic - they were attacking sheep within 48 hours of the fire taking out dog-proof boundary fences.

"I am all for the funds being provided for fencing upgrades, but it limits their effectiveness if the clearing isn't done, and we have trees and branches coming down with every storm on these fences."

Mr Bull said this was likely to occur more often in the next 12 months as many trees had been fire-affected and were more prone to falling.

Agriculture Victoria will encourage landowners to use local contractors to repair fences.

The government will also continue to pay all the restoration costs for fences damaged on private land as a result of machinery used by fire agencies to control bushfires, or fire agency staff cutting through fences to allow access for suppression efforts.

Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes said the announcement was great news for farmers, helping them rebuild from the devastation of bushfire.

"We know that tearing up fencing that's been damaged by fire is backbreaking work," she said.

"It's our job to make sure we're lending a hand to farmers and landowners as they rebuild."

Bushfire Recovery Victoria chairman Ken Lay said fencing had been a major issue for farmers in every fire-affected community he visited.

"It's great their feedback has been listened to and important steps are being taken to support them," he said.

A dedicated fencing coordinator in the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning will help landowners decide what option will suit them and arrange payment.

An assessment must be done before works are undertaken or any payments can be made.

Landholders will pay labour costs and half the cost of materials.

Landholders can phone DELWP on 136 186, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

One million dollars - provided through BlazeAid - is being made available through the Victorian Bushfire Appeal to help farmers replace fences destroyed by bushfires on their private property.

The state and federal governments have also made grants of up to $75,000 available to farmers through Rural Finance to help with the costs of rebuilding, including fences and sheds.

For more information, visit www.vic.gov.au/bushfire-recovery-victoria.

This article first appeared in The Gippsland Times

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