25 March 2020

40 per cent of fire ravaged properties still not registered for free Bega clean-up

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Laing O’Rourke

Staff from Laing O’Rourke are coordinating the clean-up effort across NSW. Photo: Supplied.

Communities north, west and south in the Bega Valley are waiting for the clean-up of bushfire affected properties to start but there are growing concerns that many people whose properties were destroyed in the fires still haven’t registered for the free service.

Bega Valley Council estimates this could be as many as 40 per cent of properties, and there are concerns that if people affected by the fires don’t register now, they may face significant delays as the clean-up proceeds.

Current estimates put the total amount of fire waste material at around 140,000 cubic metres, equivalent to around five times the volume of waste normally received in a year at the Central Waste Facility at Wolumla.

The process is being led by Laing O’Rourke, who have been contracted by the NSW Government to work across all fire-affected areas. Representatives are in the Bega Valley now speaking with property owners in Cobargo and Quaama, and other areas will follow.

Family households, singles, couples, businesses, and farmers with destroyed properties must register for the clean-up via the Service NSW website.

“We’re worried that people have been lost and confused by the multiple registrations they have had to undertake,” Mayor Kristy McBain said.

In order to ensure that nobody has been left behind, Council staff have analysed multiple different databases in a project to merge information sources wherever possible. That’s been cross-checked with registrations, leading to the concern that just under half of the Shire’s fire-affected properties haven’t been registered yet.

“At least 448 properties have been destroyed, we know a large number have registered for a range of services and support but we fear around 200 properties aren’t on the clean-up register with Service NSW”, the Mayor said.

“The hoops people have had to jump through are not acceptable, a point we will continue to make strongly to State and Federal government, this has been a massive learning process for the future. But in the here and now we need to get people on that clean-up list.”

Once registered, over time Laing O’Rourke will contact registered property owners to discuss damage and assess eligibility. Owners have the opportunity to approve the scope of works and then confirm completion of the agreed scope of works.

Around 70,000 cubic metres of fire waste is believed to be contaminated with asbestos. Council is hoping to recycle or repurpose as much of the remaining uncontaminated material as possible, but the clean-up must be undertaken professionally. Landowners should not remove asbestos-contaminated waste themselves.

“Please register now to demonstrate the need in our community and to help plan the works to come,” Cr McBain says.

It’s vital to register via the Service NSW website, and you can also call Service NSW on 13 77 88. To check if you are registered for the clean-up call or email Laing O’Rourke on 1800 007 539 and [email protected]

Updated recovery information is also available via the Council’s website and Facebook page.

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