Bowser bans fire up Coast towns
RESIDENTS of some hinterland towns face round-trips of up to 40km to fill their tanks after the Sunshine Coast Council ordered at least five fuel outlets to stop selling petrol.
The directive appears to have been issued this week to businesses selling fuel from bowsers on public property.
The council has described the decision to stop the fuel supplies as "difficult."
The decision has been blamed on state legislation which identifies people walking on footpaths with mobile phones or smoking as an unacceptable risk of igniting fuel vapours or spills.
Affected businesses include small businesses in Peachester, Eudlo, Eumundi, Conondale and Cooroy. Some of them have sold fuel from footpath bowsers for up to 50 years.
Palmwoods Auto Care has already removed its bowsers after being contacted by the council and there is now no fuel available in the town.
When the Conondale General Store's supply runs in a few days, the nearest fuel will be 20km away at Kenilworth or Maleny.
Owner Ashley Hamilton locals would not be able to buy fuel for the generators during power outages and there would be no local fuel supply for the rural fire brigade if there was a fire.
He said the loss of the fuel would have a huge impact on his business.
"We don't make a lot of money out of it but it does bring people through the door," he said.
Eudlo store owner Ian Hughes said it would cost $10,000 to decommission an underground tank, a cost which he and his wife could ill afford after having decommissioned another earlier this year.
"I'm over it, I'm sorry. Where does it end?" he said.
Mayor Bob Abbot said in a statement that an independent risk assessment had left the council with no option but to act immediately.
"This is not something we wanted to do nor do we feel happy about doing it," he said.
"But at the end of the day, not only is the council obligated to help local businesses comply with this legislation but we also have a community obligation - and that is to ensure that our community is kept safe," he said.
The five affected businesses were among nine identified as an "extreme risk" in a report commissioned by the council after changes in state legislation.
The council has offered support to some of the affected businesses but others were still awaiting written notification yesterday.
This week's directive came as a shock to at least three operators, who understood they had complied with the council's licensing requirements.