Six farmers are preparing to take legal action against the state government, arguing a massive bushfire in northern NSW could have been prevented if more hazard reduction had been allowed.
In what could be the first class action after this summer’s horror bushfire season, graziers hit by the August blaze in the Guy Fawkes National Park, west of Coffs Harbour, say it was “a disaster waiting to happen”.
Beef farmer Tony Brazier, who lives just outside Guyra, said fuel loads in the park had been allowed to reach dangerous levels because “everyone is too scared to burn anything”.
“I could see that the trouble was building for a number of years, it was just too dangerous and so this was always going to happen,” Mr Brazier, who runs about 600 head of Angus beef cattle, said.
Mr Brazier said since cattle had been prohibited from grazing in national parks, the fire threat had increased significantly resulting in a firestorm that tore through the park.
“But the big problem is that there was just no burning, everyone is too scared to burn anything because they think they will end up in jail,” he said.
The Bees Nest fire started on August 30 and turned into the first mega fire of the season, eventually burning all the way to Coffs Harbour.
“We have to have more say in the future management of the park, we need manageable fire breaks and there needs to be more talk with local landholders,” Mr Brazier said.
He said his business would take years to recover, after losing kilometres of fencing as well as land that was critical for grazing.