Mountain plot a fire risk

2016-08-09 06:00

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Glencairn residents have been lobbying for almost a decade to have a fire risk in their community cleared.

However, an absent landlord and national legislation have seen a delay in removing thick vegetation from the site.

These plots pose a fire risk to several wooden houses close by, with an estimated 210 residents in danger should a fire break out, the community says.

ComplaintsNumerous complaints have been received from the Glencairn community, confirms Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith.

“The property concerned poses a fire risk and as such a firebreak system has been erected between the property and the Glencairn residential area.

“Any mountainous vegetation poses a fire risk, whether alien vegetation or not. This erf is infested with alien vegetation, as is the case with most of the mountain slopes in the far south area,” he says.

In terms of the fire by-laws as well as the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, the property complies as the requirement for firebreaks is being met, says Smith.

“In fact, the firebreak width was increased quite significantly last year based on the concerns raised by the Glencairn community.

The biggest challenge is clearing the entire property, which comes at a huge cost which must be recovered,” he says.

“The firebreak fortunately forms part of the large circum-peninsula firebreak system which the City partially funds. This is one of the portions of the firebreak system funded by the City on an annual basis. The firebreak is maintained annually in preparation for the summer season.”

Notices and directives have been issued to the landowner, Smith adds.

Private land“Unfortunately the landowner is an Irish national not residing in South Africa.

The matter regarding erf 1 was passed on to the National Department of Environmental Affairs who is the mandated authority to implement the National Environmental Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) on private land.

The property owner has not acted on any notice or directive issued.

The City has no jurisdiction over large properties such as erf 1.”

It will cost in excess of R2m to clear the property, Smith says.

“Any money spent in this regard must be recovered and the City would have no way of recouping the cost, given the particular situation.”

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