SOUTHERN Moreton Bay Islands residents have lashed out at the state government and council for failing to provide an emergency escape route at Russell Island’s Rocky Point.
Moreton Bay Combined Islands Association Committee treasurer Margaret Kemp said in a letter to Transport Minister Mark Bailey a boat ramp for critical emergency evacuation on the island’s south-west was a high priority.
“We feel the state government is neglecting its duty of care to provide an adequate escape landing on the south western corner at Rocky Point and that Redland City Council is neglecting its duty of care contradicting disaster plans by having an assembly area at Rocky Point with no means of escape,” Ms Kemp said.
“MBCIA’s opinion is that Russell Island’s community feels it is unacceptable for the state government to procrastinate and provide excuses for installing a boat ramp at Rocky Point.”
Ms Kemp said they were especially concerned that a fire or other emergency would split the island, cutting off the southern end from the boat ramp in the north.
“It is high priority that Rocky Point has a multipurpose all-tide boat ramp for critical emergency evacuation and provides for residents to self evacuate in advance, relieving pressure from emergency services.”
The MBCIA also suggested the minister visit the island.
Ms Kemp was replying to a letter from Mr Bailey tabled in Parliament earlier this year.
The minister said they were investigating two sites on Russell Island for a boat ramp.
He said any project on the island would be a joint endeavour between council and his department and, if a barge ramp was to be used for emergency services operations, also the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.
In response to Ms Kemp’s letter, a Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said TMR and councils jointly funded the delivery of boat ramps.
“We provide all in-water infrastructure such as the boat ramp while local councils provide the land-side infrastructure including access, lighting, car-trailer parking, regular car parking and any facilities such as toilets,” the spokesperson said.
A council spokesperson said the state government funded boat ramps through TMR with input from council.
The TMR spokesperson said a hydrographic survey scheduled for later this year would provide base information to consider construction of a possible boat ramp at Russell Island in coming years.
“Funding approval would be required and the project would be assessed against competing statewide priorities,” the spokesperson said.
A council spokesperson said the island’s natural hazards and critical infrastructure document and the fire management plan review report from 2017 did not recommend a landing ramp be constructed for evacuation, but council was aware residents had concerns about an effective evacuation route.
“The report does recommend investigating a second evacuation route on Russell Island and council’s conservation and fire management team has done so, identifying a number of tracks and trails that can be linked together to provide a second evacuation route from the southern end of Russell Island,” the spokesperson said.
“Additional fire access trails have been investigated, mapped and costed on Russell Island and a second proposed evacuation route is currently being investigated.
“During an exercise conducted after the Russell Island fire, it was established that SES flood boats were able to access Sandy Beach in an emergency, though access by foot to boats can be difficult due to mud and rock.”
The spokesperson said access and alternate points to use during emergencies were being researched.
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