Give us a break to keep highway open
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Give us a break to keep highway open

Victoria’s Environment and Roads Ministers have been asked to continue tree clearing work on the Princes Highway East that commenced over the fire clean-up period.
Nationals Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, is backing a proposal by local communities and forest firefighters for the creation of a strategic fire break on the Princes Highway. 
“Over the January period local freight companies were losing over $100,000 per week due to the highway being closed by fallen trees and the impact on the wider economy was enormous,” said Mr Bull.
“Locations like Bemm River and Cann River were running out of food and had to receive airlifts, farmers could not get through to starving stock meaning we had to airlift in hay and many other businesses suffered huge financial losses from this road closure.
“The Princes Highway originally had about 5-15 metres cleared on either side, but this has not been maintained and roadside vegetation has encroached to a stage where there is canopy touch over the top of much of the road.
“What we need is a decent fire break on both sides of the road.
“I appreciate concerns for the preservation of the forest and the habitat it provides, but it is about balance, we cannot afford to have a national highway and our major transport link closed for weeks on end.
“The closure of the Princes Highway after the bushfires crippled us financially as it did so just a few years ago when hundreds to trees fell in a violent storm, some directly on to vehicles.
“After an event like we have just had, it endangers the lives of those who had to re-open the road and even when the road surface is cleared, roadside trees have to be individually assessed before the road is declared safe and this can take weeks.
“That is why I have asked the responsible Ministers to start listening to the experienced forest firefighters who don’t want to see a repeat of the destruction of last summer’s fires and give us the strategic fire break we need.” 
Caption: Local MP Tim Bull, has asked the Environment and Roads Ministers to continue tree clearing work on the Princes Highway East, to avoid a repeat of the emergency works that were carried out by Australian Defence Force personnel earlier this year.