Browned off

Complaints about excessive bureaucracy within local government are common.
There are regulations for this and policies for that and even policies about drawing up policies.
They can be maddening for residents who just want to get on with their lives.
However, it should be pointed out that a large number of council regulations actually implement State Government-imposed laws.
The new burning off rules are a case in point.
The EPA Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 is a wide ranging document but the sting in its tail for Hills residents is a bureaucratic line on a map that lumps some of the highest bushfire risk areas in the Mt Lofty Ranges into the “metropolitan area”.
It also treats heavily vegetated Country Living residential areas of Stirling as if they have the same environmental profile as the new subdivisions of Mt Barker.
Residents began raising the alarm about the policy late last year during some EPA information sessions because they could see what was coming.
The EPA was quick to hose down concerns, saying the policy would not prevent local government from allowing burning off for bushfire prevention purposes.
The Adelaide Hills Council was of the same opinion (or it was caught napping) because it seemed to believe it could print a general notice in a newspaper outlining the rules and let residents get on with the business of cleaning up their properties, Monday to Saturday, 10am-3pm.
That doesn’t appear to be the case.
Some special exemptions had to be brought in for rural landholders caught up in the “metropolitan” zone and now the council has to take responsibility for assessing permits in townships.
It also has to cough up thousands of dollars for extra green waste days and find extra money to cover staff time to regulate the business of burning off.
In a region where complaints about landholders’ failure to clean up their properties abound and complaints about smoke pollution are rare, residents now have a policy that seems to be less about clean air than it is about ensuring another, unwanted level of accountability for burning.

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