Up in smoke
By UTE SCHULENBERG
SCOTTS Head resident Stephen Fletcher is sick of smoke and he is not alone.
Mr Fletcher is among a number of residents who attended Nambucca Shire Council's meeting on Thursday night to request action on the burning off of trees on a nearby development site.
Mr Fletcher told the council how large piles of timber and undergrowth were being burnt 'green' regularly, resulting in heavy smoke settling over Scotts Head for days.
"On the last occasion I had to put my kids in the car at 4am and drive them around until 7.30am to get them out of the smoke-filled house," he said.
"The burning has been going on for over 18 months and no matter which way the wind is blowing, someone on Grassy Head Road or in Scotts Head is suffering."
For asthmatic Sally Hunter, the smoke is a serious health issue.
"I can't stay in the house at the moment," she said.
Mr Fletcher said he was speaking on behalf of 60 residents who are requesting that the area around Grassy Head Road come under the council's control for burning regulations.
During Thursday night's debate, Cr John Ainsworth asked what difference it would make to what the landowner did.
Greg Meyers, director of environment and planning, said it would mean the impact of air quality would have to be taken into consideration when the council gave permission for burning.
Cr Ainsworth then moved an amended motion that the council first request the Rural Fire Service respond to claims that fires are being left unattended and 24 hours' notice of the burns is not being given to residents.
The motion was passed but not unanimously.
Ms Hunter said she was 'appalled' by the stalling tactics of Cr Ainsworth.
"This effectively gives the developer the green light to burn as much as possible as quickly as possible," she said. "(Thursday) night we witnessed council disregarding health issues of the population."
At the end of the meeting Cr Sue Nash moved an emergency motion that the matter be investigated as a matter of urgency.
"I am concerned that 20 fires are burning unattended," Cr Nash said.
Yesterday morning Mr Fletcher said he could still see 10 unattended fires burning from his front door. "Why don't they chip it? It's Neanderthal to burn," he said.