Saturday, April 21, 2018

Disaster threat for ignorant holidaymakers

A glut of unregulated holiday homes in Western Australia’s Margaret River may be putting guests at risk of bushfires, residents claim.

Accommodation operators irate at the lack of control over new holiday lets are petitioning their local council for action to ensure all private properties meet safety guidelines.

The petition has been signed by several local firefighters.

Resident Ed Green said he’d seen a proliferation of holiday homes in his neighbourhood and believed elderly tourists, overseas visitors and backpackers were naive about the region’s fire risks.

“Who would tell a visitor they are in a very high fire-risk area?” he said.

“They would go somewhere else.”

Dissatisfaction among hospitality providers has festered since the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council last discussed the effects of Airbnb and other online platforms on licensed operators.

Margaret River Chalets owner Lewis Hawkins told The AMRTimes: “It’s time our council acted to level the playing field by ensuring all short-stay accommodation operators are subjected to the same approval processes, rated on the same basis, carry adequate insurance, and are required to adhere to all the relevant regulations.”

Shire strategic planning manager Matt Cuthbert said the holiday homes policy was under review.

“Consideration is being given to the areas where holiday homes ought to be allowed and those where, in the interests of preserving residential amenity, they should be prohibited,” he said.

“Operators renting their properties for short-term accommodation without the proper approvals in place can expect to be infringed.”

Shire chief bushfire control officer David Holland said all new houses must comply with Shire guidelines and new bushfire ratings.

 

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