'DEVASTATING': Bushfire recovery will take years, says mayor
JOINING 70 councils across the nation, Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow has called for state and federal governments to take action to combat the future impacts of climate change.
In a mayoral minute tabled for Tuesday's Council meeting, Cr Mustow noted that almost 50 per cent of the Richmond Valley local government area has been fire affected.
"With excess fuel loads, extremely dry conditions, and consistently above average temperatures, it's no surprise the Richmond Valley has been subject to two major bush fire disasters this season," Cr Mustow said.
The Busbys Flat Road bush fire burned more than 48,000ha, destroyed 42 homes, 88 outbuildings, with a further 13 homes and 34 outbuildings sustaining damage in the blaze.
The Myall Creek Road bush fire, which is still burning, has so far burned more than 118,000ha, and destroyed 18 homes and 84 outbuildings in the Richmond Valley LGA, as well as damaging a further 10 homes and 31 outbuildings.
"These fires have had a devastating impact on our community, with the recovery process likely to be measured in years rather than months or weeks," Cr Mustow said.
"We all know Australia is prone to bush fires, but we also know that predicted climate change means extreme events including drought, floods, and rising sea levels along our coast are likely to be more common.
"Such disasters would not only put our community's safety at risk, but also increase the burden on Council of repairing or replacing damaged and destroyed property and infrastructure."
Cr Mustow said Richmond Valley Council had an active environmental charter which was committed to the long-term care of the environment and acknowledged the impacts of climate change as a global issue to which Council needed to plan for.
He said Council was joining more than 70 Australian councils which had resolved in different ways to seek a similar commitment from the state and federal governments on the issue.
"Council has made it a priority to promote the protection of the environment and provide services and programs to enhance our natural environment," Cr Mustow said.
"Now is the time to emphasise that Council is very concerned by the impacts of climate change."