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The keystone activity in this program was the property clean-up program delivered under a single contract between the Tasmanian Government and Hazel Brothers. Completed by the end of May 2013, the program was managed through a partnership between Bushfire Recovery Unit and the Department of Infrastructure and Energy Resources (DIER) and achieved the clean-up of 320 individual properties and the removal of at least 42 000 tonnes of material. A key consideration in choosing this course of action was the need to ensure safe and secure removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials in a coordinated way.
This initiative saved residents and businesses considerable expense and effort, as well as avoiding potential issues that often arise when there is a sudden large demand for limited specialised services.
A further avenue of assistance to fire-affected residents was provided through the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) boundary resurvey program, which re-established survey pegs on properties and updated the cadastre. This enabled property owners to proceed with design and development applications for their new buildings, as well as positioning of fences etc. In cases where surveys had already been paid for by residents, the costs were reimbursed. The program coordinated the resurvey of 116 properties and provided reimbursement for 13 surveys conducted prior to the implementation of the program, at a total cost of approximately $140,000.
Recognising the complexity of rebuilding destroyed homes, the Taskforce published the Building Back Better Guide, which aimed to address issues common to people rebuilding their dwellings (in simple and easy to understand language). The Unit also organised a building expo, held in the Dunalley Primary School gym.
In terms of rebuilding of private infrastructure, the establishment of new homes was quite noticeable in the later months of 2013. To the end of 2013, Tasman Council had processed a total of 38 development applications for the fire-affected areas. Thirteen of these were for dwellings, with the balance for sheds and other outbuildings. Sorell Council had processed a total of 109 development applications, of which 52 were for dwellings.
Reconstruction of the Dunalley Police Station, temporarily relocated to the Ambulance and Fire Station, is expected to commence in April 2014 and be completed in September 2014. A master plan for the new school has been through community consultation and has had a positive reception. The development application was submitted to Sorell Council for approval in late January 2014, and is an exciting opportunity to reconfigure the entire site.
Similarly, planning for the Dunalley Community Hall is well underway, although completion of the new building is unlikely to occur until well into 2015. The planning process for the hall has included considerable community consultation, ensuring that when complete the site and the hall will be integrated into surrounding community infrastructure.
Sorell and Tasman Councils coordinated several initiatives relevant to the restoration of community infrastructure more generally. Most notable among these has been the development of the Dunalley and Environs Structure Plan, which aimed to coordinate the future use and development of the area. It also sets out to identify options to economically revitalise the area, providing for local employment and wealth-generating activities. Again, this included a component of community consultation, including a community meeting on 21 August 2013, which was well attended and gave confidence that the final draft plan submitted to the Tasmanian Planning Commission was in tune with public sentiment.
An additional Environmental Health Officer was employed by Sorell and Tasman Councils to provide dedicated support to residents of the area. This enabled a prompt response to the multitude of public health concerns and issues, including dust and other contamination, septic systems, tank water and drainage. The Environmental Health Officer was also able to advise residents rebuilding their homes regarding aspects of environmental health and other relevant considerations.