The scenic lookout at Tier Hill has residents concerned this approaching bushfire season.
The size of the trees, increased vegetation over the years and lack of maintenance are on top of the list of things that need addressing according to near-by resident, Maleena Carson.
With the recent bushfire gripping much of the state earlier this year, the fear that it could easily happen again is fresh in people’s minds.
“I understand that things take time, but this safety issue was first brought to the attention of the Council years ago, and myself and other residents have had multiple meetings to address the issue,” said Maleena.
Approximately 10 years ago there was a public meeting at the lookout and there was a grand plan for the site but nothing came from it.
“Then around 2-3 years ago I remember I was excited to see some progress on maintaining the bush land with council workers, but only minimal work was done on the perimeter, nothing was done to clear the dense vegetation or back burn the site.”
The area of bush joins onto Emmett Street, close to many residential houses, and if a fire did start it would tear right through there according to Maleena.
“I am only waiting when not if a fire goes through all that undergrowth, as to what damage it is going to cause, not only on the hill but along Emmett Street and underneath the hill,” said Maleena.
Letters have been back and forth with the Circular Head Council on the matter, and a permit was received in 2018 to allow work to be carried out on the site, but unfortunately no plans or budget have been allocated for the work.
The council has a few years to act on the permit however, because it is beyond their current budget, efforts to attract external funding will need to be explored.
Standing on the lookout the height of the trees also limits the once spectacular view of river and beyond.
Maleena commented that the lookout tower is promoted by Smithton and the council, but is surprised its not maintained to a standard that the locals and tourists can enjoy.
“What’s the point of having a lookout if you can’t see anything?” asked Maleena.
“We are all trying to promote Smithton and encourage people to visit and move here, then we have this as our lookout with no view.”
Previously tourist buses would travel to the lookout to take in the view, now they hardly visit the site.
Concerns over the state being exposed due to increased bushfire risks have also recently surfaced due to the Tasmanian Fire Service’s suspension of their remote area firefighting team.
Labor Shadow Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Shane Broad, said the Government had failed to adopt the recommendations of previous reports into serious bushfires, and it must act immediately to prevent future events, especially with the upcoming fire season approaching..
“If a fire is started in coming weeks from a lightning strike like we saw last summer, the Tasmanian Fire Service would not be able to send a Remote Area firefighting Team and control the fire before it gets out of hand,” said Dr Broad.
“Without them on the front-line, our remote and isolated towns, and beautiful wilderness are at real risk of fire.”
Emergency Services Minister, Mark Shelton commented that the Tasmanian Fire Service will not deploy staff for remote fire activity but the Parks and Wildlife Services has the capability to deploy remote area firefighters if they are needed.