Immediate plantation burnoffs unlikely

Hancock Victorian Plantations has confirmed it is unlikely to undertake any planned burnings before Easter.

“There will be no burns in the immediate vicinity of Morwell or Maryvale townships in 2014,” HVP spokesperson Lou Coutts said.

The decision follows media reports residents feared they would be subject to further smoke after more than a month of smoky conditions from the Hazelwood mine fire.

The company notified neighbours of their intention to undertake burning of harvest residue heaps and of unsalvageable trees from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

“HVP provided this notification of intent well in advance, to provide the community the opportunity for input into the process,” the spokesperson said.

“Due to current fire and weather conditions including rainfall and air quality, it is unlikely HVP will be undertaking any burning operation before Easter this year.”

The spokesperson said fuel reduction would not take place unless the conditions were appropriate on any specific day.

This includes wind direction and speed, temperature, relative humidity and consideration of Environment Protection Authority air quality condition assessments.

Consultation will also be held with the Department of Health, Latrobe City Council, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, the Bureau of Meteorology and CFA in the days prior to any proposed burn.

“In addition, all proposed burns are registered with VICFIRE the day prior as well,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the company, as a member of the community, was conscious of the sensitivity to smoke in the Latrobe Valley.

“Our staff and contractors all contributed time and resources in the recent firefighting efforts and as residents we share in the community concerns regarding health issues from the Hazelwood coal fire,” the spokesperson said.