SMOKE AND DEVASTATION: Darren O'Neil has endured constant smoke and watching vegetation be stripped of the new development.
SMOKE AND DEVASTATION: Darren O'Neil has endured constant smoke and watching vegetation be stripped of the new development.

Concern for fires and wildlife

WHEN did it become appropriate for developers to light fires in built up areas and smoke out the neighbours?

That is the question on Darren and Sharon O’Neil’s minds as smoke wafts through their home on Old Rockhampton Road in Yeppoon.

More worryingly, the couple are in a panic about the clearing of the land which has acted as a nature retreat along Old Rockhampton Road for years.

Darren said the mass clearing of land began a couple of weeks ago and, since then, the developers had been piling up the debris of trees and vegetation and setting them alight.

“With the showers and rain we have had, it just makes the piles smoulder and it’s us the neighbours who are being affected,” Darren said.

“We have to keep our windows closed and still the smoke has been wafting through our home and the homes of all our neighbours.

“We contacted Council who told us the developers have all the appropriate permits to burn off, but I have to ask if anyone considered the impact on people who live near the development.

“Nobody else living in the suburbs is allowed to light fires and yet this is permitted for developers, it just doesn’t sound fair to me.”

Darren said while the smoke was affecting them, he and wife Sharon were even more concerned with the clearing of every last bit of vegetation on the land.

“Along Rockhampton Road we have enjoyed the wildlife that live in the trees behind us, we have many species of birds and families of Kookaburras that call the area home,” he said.

“I understand the need for more housing, but does it have to be at the expense of our wildlife?

“There seems to be just the one operator clearing everything out, no wildlife spotters or water truck that we have observed, and it was my understanding that these things are required of all developments for the protection of both nearby residents and the wildlife.

“Seriously, this is a joke, there has been no consideration for others, and we have had enough.”

Sharon said the development had up to five fires burning at any time and, being an asthmatic, it was quite unbearable.

“I have spoken to quite a few of our neighbours and they all feel the same, we have had enough,” she said.

“The smoke is going through all our houses and because of the rain it has been a case of the fires smouldering all night long.

“There is one strip of vegetation left, the surveyors have been through and told us they believe it will also be stripped bare. We are pleading with the developers to at least leave this last corridor of vegetation alone so our wildlife can survive.”

Developer Northside Projects CEO Tony Paikan confirmed the development had all the appropriate approvals in place for the clearing of the land for the next stage of Central Park Estate.

Mr Paikan said fire permits were also in place to allow for the burning of vegetation that had been removed on site.

“We did let the nearby by residents know of our intention to do the regulated burns via a letterbox drop and staff door knocking,” Mr Paikan said.

“With regard to the vegetation, we would be 100% supportive for Council to purchase back a parcel of land to act as a green zone should they contact us prior to civil works being started.

“The land behind the current residents on that site has been allocated for 18 allotments to be sold.”

Fire Services confirmed the fire permit for the development to burn had been revoked at this time and would be further reviewed with consideration for residents’ amenity.



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