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Bureaucratic madness: Council thwarts Eildon caravan park owner’s attempt to protect park against bushfires

An Eildon man’s attempt to make his caravan park safer throughout the bushfire season has been thwarted by council bureaucracy.

Craig Dawson wants to clear tea tree from neighbouring properties to create a fire break and make Boulevard Caravan Park, which has a capacity of 150 people, safer.

His neighbours have agreed to the clearing, but to remove the trees Murrindindi Shire Council requires permits, site inspections and expert consultants to survey the area.

The council also wants Mr Dawson to spend more than $100,000 on new trees to offset those he wants to remove.

“We just want to remove 1.2 hectares of tea tree abutting the park on two neighbours land, to create a greater fire buffer,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“We’re happy to pay for it!”

Mr Dawson, who has experience as a voluntary firefighter, says he’s done all he can within the park to reduce the fire risk, but he’s worried it’s not enough.

“We want to try and make it a bit safer and create a bit more of a fire break around the park,” he said.

But it doesn’t look likely the trees will be removed any time soon.

If Mr Dawson removes the hundreds of tea trees which are making his caravan park unsafe without the necessary permits he could be fined $1600 per tree.

“Common sense in Australia has now been replaced by bureaucracy!,” he said.

“I’ve written to the CEO again yesterday, pointing out that there are clauses in the legislation that says there are exemptions to have a permit in certain circumstances, and I’ve articulated the circumstances are that NSW and Queensland are giving Victorians a heads up that we potentially face an extreme fire season this year.

“On that basis I’m seeking an exemption to get the work done ASAP.”

3AW Mornings contacted Murrindindi Council, who declined to appear on the program.

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