The grass may be growing back around Tarago and Mount Fairy, but looks can be deceptive.
The devastating January 17 Currandooley fire destroyed valuable pasture, core breeding stock, structures and livelihoods. Tim De Mestre’s Merigan property was one of the most heavily affected when fire tore through most of his 950-acre holding, destroyed windbreaks, 30km of fencing and injuring stock. Thankfully, the homestead was saved.
Almost 10 months on, Mr De Mestre told the Post the farm had been slow to recover: “It has been a hard winter on the stock without decent ground cover. A lot of the pine breaks, paddock trees and oaks are also not recovering. But repairs are ongoing and we look forward to a good spring and summer – without any more fires.”
It does well to remember people’s experience because big questions remain over the blaze. Wind farm company Infigen denies culpability and will vigorously defend both civil and coronial proceedings. But at the very least the fire’s cause exposes the need for fire mitigation around high-voltage lines whether on a wind farm or somewhere else. Given the proliferation of wind farms in this region, any coronial recommendations on this point would at least reassure the community of maximum protection efforts.
Infigen has a fight on its hands with a class action representing 27 parties also underway in the NSW Supreme Court. The company will argue that birds commonly catch fire from high-voltage lines and it cannot be blamed for this fact alone.
But a coronial inquiry will likely delve much deeper, investigating whether materials and design may be improved.
It’s essential for everyone’s sake that this inquiry goes ahead.
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