Legislation has been passed through West Australian Parliament to return the management of Harvest and Vehicle Movement Bans to Local Governments during Total Fire Bans.
After last year’s implementation of Total Fire Bans had unintended consequences on primary producers, FESA reviewed the situation and proposed a number of changes.
FESA Chief Executive Officer Jo Harrison-Ward said last year was the first time Western Australia had Total Fire Bans in place.
“As part of those bans, harvesting and movement of vehicles in paddocks were prohibited during a Total Fire Ban,” Ms Harrison-Ward said.
“The bans were implemented based on forecast weather for regions which caused problems as conditions varied.
Ms Harrison-Ward said after extensive consultation with local governments in affected areas, FESA had proposed a number of recommended changes to the legislation, which have now been made law.
“The changes mean farmers can harvest when there is a Total Fire Ban in place as long as a Harvest and Vehicle Movement ban has not been implemented by their Local Government and farmers have a firefighting vehicle on site, with a minimum of 400 litres of water.
“Local governments, who are able to monitor local conditions, will implement Harvest and Vehicle Movement Bans in their area once the Grassland Fire Danger Index (GFDI) reaches 35 in their area.
“Some local governments may also choose to implement the ban at an earlier stage.
“This option places the responsibility back with the local governments and still enables FESA to place a Total Fire Ban where necessary to restrict other unnecessary activities that could cause fires.”
The GFDI represents how difficult a fire should it occur, be to control, and utilises temperature, relative humidity, fuel load, curing and wind speed to determine this.
Total Fire Ban information will be broadcast on ABC radio and is available from the FESA information line on 1300 657 209 or the website www.fesa.wa.gov.au and information on Harvest and Vehicle Movement Bans is available from local government offices.