A FEE of $70 has been introduced for Permit to Burn applications by Campaspe Shire.
The applications are processed by the shire on behalf of the Country Fire Authority (CFA)
Once the fire danger period is declared each year by the CFA, the lighting of fires is prohibited unless authorised by the issue of a Permit to Burn.
Rural councils, where cropping is an agricultural practice, have historically issued the permits to primary producers within the declared fire danger period (generally November to April).
Changes to CFA guidelines now suggest that an inspection should take place before approving an application and issuing a permit.
This is particularly recommended for more complex applications to ensure all necessary steps have been undertaken to allow approved burns to be conducted in a safe manner.
In 2016, eight applications were received, in 2017 the number increased to 260.
Councils who have introduced a fee have seen a decrease in the number of applications, as applicants can apply directly to the CFA or wait until the fire danger period is lifted.
Council will write to previous Permit to Burn applicants advising of the introduction of a fee.
Cr Vicki Neele said it was never nice to introduce a fee but it was necessary to cover costs associated with granting the applications
“The CFA can issue the permit at no charge but they generally aren’t as quick because it has to go through head office and can’t be done locally,” she said.
“We’ve had a large number of applications and people have become accustomed to coming to council for the applications.
“Charging a fee will wean people off coming to council and encourage them to apply for free through the CFA.”
Crs Daniel Mackrell, Annie Vickers and John Zobec opposed the motion but it was carried 6 votes to 3.