Council plans $590,000 annual budget for island fire mitigation as resident renews calls for ramp at Rocky Point

COUNCIL will continue its island fire mitigation work, with a $590,000 annual budget planned to keep a management program in place.

ISLAND LIFESTYLE: Fire mitigation on the bay islands has been a hot topic since the release of a damning QFES report in 2017.

ISLAND LIFESTYLE: Fire mitigation on the bay islands has been a hot topic since the release of a damning QFES report in 2017.

It comes as the amount council has spent on fire management for Russell, Macleay, Karragarra and Lamb islands since 2017 approaches $2.5 million.

Money invested in mitigation work has ramped up since a 2017 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services report found the islands were carrying extreme fuel loads.

Three blazes ripped through Russell Island in December 2016, threatening more than 60 homes and scorching about 150 hectares.

The $590,000 floated to maintain a management program would almost double what council spent during the 2017-18 financial year.

But islander Greg Hartay-Szabo said more could be done, including building a long sought-after ramp at Rocky Point.

"We still currently have only one land evacuation route along the whole island," he said. "QFES has recommended a second evacuation route on Russell Island but we are yet to see that happen.

" ... What we would really like to see is that they build out the road completely on Glendale Road right down to Rocky Point, and then they build a ramp to there.

"The island is long enough to risk another fire where we are cut off on the main road."

Cr Mark Edwards said 44 fire trails spanning about 23.5 kilometers had been created over the past three years.

He said more might be built as needed.

" ... Other fire mitigation measures on the islands this year include weed control, removal of debris and planned burns which are undertaken between April and September, weather permitting," he said.

Mr Hartay-Szabo said some council blocks remained a fire hazard and needed more regular maintenance.

"It is fine to prompt private owners to clean up their blocks, but council has a large amount of blocks and the maintenance of those leaves a lot to be desired," he said.

"We had none (hazard reduction burns) on the southside (last year).

" ... There is a great amount of vegetation on the south end and more people building there, so it would really be good if the procrastination tradition was reviewed.

"For more than a year we basically didn't get any hazard reduction burns there."

Council has budgeted $779,000 this financial year for things like fuel reduction, weed control, tree pruning, planned burning, fire trail maintenance and debris removal.

Mayor Karen Williams said the measures were an important part of council's annual disaster preparedness.

"Major works have been undertaken on council-owned land, and will continue, as part of our strategy to make the islands safer for residents," she said.

"Council also works closely with the community and supports individual responsibility for fire safety on private properties."

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