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Raised fire danger: crop system, wind farms 'hinder' access for CFA crews

Volunteer firefighters are at greater risk with raised-bed crops taking over the south-west, local farmers have warned. And the problem will be exacerbated if massive wind turbines are approved across the district, hindering aerial attacks on blazes. "We live in a very fire-prone region," Berrybank farmer Cathy Keating said. ...Access to the fire front would also be hindered due to the wind towers. "The likes of Elvis (the huge fire-fighting helicopter) will not come into the area."

Volunteer firefighters are at greater risk with raised-bed crops taking over the south-west, local farmers have warned.

And the problem will be exacerbated if massive wind turbines are approved across the district, hindering aerial attacks on blazes.

"We live in a very fire-prone region," Berrybank farmer Cathy Keating said.

"We witnessed the 1977 fires so we've got some understanding of the rolling sea of fire that comes towards you and the haste that it comes."

Mrs Keating's husband Graeme is a second-generation farmer whose family was burnt out in the 1944 fires that devastated the township of Derrinallum and surrounding areas and prompted the establishment of the Country Fire Authority.

She now fears that the Western Plains area is at similar risk again, with authorities failing to recognise the threat that industrial developments such as wind farms will bring.

Energy companies are now planning to erect more than 640 turbines between Berrybank and Mortlake and north of Skipton in five separate projects.

"We're not being careful enough about our fire protection. The turbines are adding 100 times the opportunity... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Volunteer firefighters are at greater risk with raised-bed crops taking over the south-west, local farmers have warned.

And the problem will be exacerbated if massive wind turbines are approved across the district, hindering aerial attacks on blazes.

"We live in a very fire-prone region," Berrybank farmer Cathy Keating said.

"We witnessed the 1977 fires so we've got some understanding of the rolling sea of fire that comes towards you and the haste that it comes."

Mrs Keating's husband Graeme is a second-generation farmer whose family was burnt out in the 1944 fires that devastated the township of Derrinallum and surrounding areas and prompted the establishment of the Country Fire Authority.

She now fears that the Western Plains area is at similar risk again, with authorities failing to recognise the threat that industrial developments such as wind farms will bring.

Energy companies are now planning to erect more than 640 turbines between Berrybank and Mortlake and north of Skipton in five separate projects.

"We're not being careful enough about our fire protection. The turbines are adding 100 times the opportunity to start a fire," Mrs Keating said. She said Union Fenosa, the company behind the Berrybank development, had given token assurance about its fire protection plans.

It had promised to install tracks and water tankers around the 5000-plus-hectare site, as well as "upskill" local farmers in fire-fighting methods.

Ms Keating estimated that 4000 hectares of raised bed crops lay within the wind farm's boundaries and with ditches at two-metre intervals, they presented major access problems for fire trucks.

"Union Fenosa think the fires will run along three-metre-wide tracks,'' she said.

"They have no idea how a fire runs on the plains."

Access to the fire front would also be hindered due to the wind towers.

"The likes of Elvis (the huge fire-fighting helicopter) will not come into the area."

Mr Keating recently told Corangamite Shire Council there was no legislation to regulate the practice of raised beds on farms.

Cr Geoff Smith said there were more raised bed crops in the Corangamite shire than anywhere else in the state.

The farming method, which has grown from a one-hectare trial in 1996 to more than 60,000 hectares , allows the production of grain crops in waterlogged soils. It involves growing crops on beds of soil 10 to 20 centimetres high and up to two metres wide.


Source: http://www.standard.net.au/...

DEC 28 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23856-raised-fire-danger-crop-system-wind-farms-hinder-access-for-cfa-crews
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