‘Be very concerned’: mayor cautions about Buruli study

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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr David Gill wants the state government to order a “full environmental impact assessment” before launching the contentious Buruli study program.

Cr Gill says the program being run by the Department of Health and Human Services – in which large areas of the Mornington Peninsula could be chemically sprayed to combat mosquitoes – has “little regard for the environment or [its] effect on people”.

“They should consult, provide information to the community and then listen hard to what has been said before taking any further action.”

The mayor described the program as a “third world approach which has not been proven to work”.

“We don’t want to see a big brother approach by the state government to the community,” he said.

“The council has not been fully informed [of the study methods] and has played no part in any real decision making.”

Cr Gill said that while residents could “opt out” of the study they have “not been properly informed of this possibility or how it would work”.

He had “been told” the program would focus on Sorrento, Blairgowrie, Rye and Tootgarook, but that the entire study included Portsea, Capel Sound and St Andrews Beach.

“The exact locations to receive the mosquito control intervention are known to Department of Health and Human Services but have not yet been provided to the council,” he said.

The mayor said education and biological pest control, such as increasing microbat nests in the area, were a preferential option over widespread fogging or spraying.

“As the intervention areas are small, and a major concern surrounds bee deaths, a program to replenish bee numbers after the control intervention is completed could be considered,” he said.

Cr Gill is a bee enthusiast who gives talks on native bees.

“l am devastated by the possibility of widespread spraying,” he said. “All insects will be affected and, consequently, the rest of the food chain including birds and fish. The public has the right to be very concerned.

“The Buruli ulcer is a huge concern and an answer must be found urgently. Hopefully, this will happen without creating another problem.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 23 July 2019

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