Work will commence to create 35 kilometres of strategic fuel breaks around the Lorne, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea, to provide better protection from bushfires.

The project will see Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) construct the 40-metre wide breaks using specialist mulching machinery to reduce bushfire fuel. By connecting existing fuel breaks, the works will create a ring of fuel-reduced land around each town.

FFMVic will begin mulching flammable vegetation in bushland at Anglesea along Inverlochy Street this morning, with more than 10 personnel and contractors on site.

Crews will also remove hazardous trees, to ensure any future firefighting within the fuel breaks can be carried out safely.

Work will commence later this week at Lorne along Allenvale Road, and at Aireys Inlet next week, along Boundary Road.

Once established, the new fuel breaks will resemble open parklands following the removal of dense ground vegetation, and larger trees being left in place.

In an innovative approach to reducing bushfire risk, the fuel breaks will cross private land as well as public land, with works to take place on 41 private properties following extensive consultation with landholders.

Crews will next week begin removing hazardous trees along 45 kilometres of local roadsides, to reduce the risk of falling limbs blocking roads for emergency services and residents during storms and bushfires.

The $1.5 million project is funded by the Victorian Government and is being delivered by FFMVic in partnership with the Surf Coast Shire, CFA and Regional Roads Victoria.

Crews and contractors will adhere to physical distancing and hygiene requirements to ensure operations are carried out safely.

Quotes attributable to FFMVic Senior Fuel Management Officer Bodin Campbell:

“The project is about building more fire resilient towns – improving the ability of our firefighters to control bushfires close to these townships and also to conduct planned burning if required.”

“While we’ve been reducing bushfire fuel on private property for some time, the creation of permanent fuel breaks on private property is a new approach to improve community resilience to the risk of bushfires.”

Quotes attributable to Surf Coast Shire Community Emergency Management Coordinator Peter Ashton:

“We’re pleased to be working with FFMVic to deliver this important project and we appreciate the support of local landholders that have paved the way for the works to go ahead.”