NEARLY $130 million dollars will be forked out to build a new fire training facilitiy in the Central Highlands area, a centre in Ballan and to de-commission Fiskville.
The budget pledge is a huge increase on last year’s allocation of $300,000 to find a new site to replace the embattled Fiskville site which was controversially closed in 2015 after parts of the site were found to be contaminated.
The state government has been unable to secure a site in the Ballan area to date, but has confirmed it is still committed to the area.
A total of $46.2 million will help establish a new firefighting training centre in the Central Highlands and upgrade the training facility at Huntly. The government has confirmed another site in Ballan will also be secured. The government is in talks with the CFA to determine what will be built where and what the facilities will encompass.
A further $80.7 million will be invested over four years to decommission and remediate the site of the former Fiskville training facility.
Environmental audits will be conducted at the site. Upgrades and environmental audits will also take place at six other operational emergency management training centres located across regional Victoria.
Emergency services minister Jane Garrett maintained the government would commit to both training centres.
"CFA is working to identify a site for a new hot fire training facility in the Ballan area,” Ms Garrett said.
"In addition to Ballan, the Victorian Budget 2016/17 includes funding for a brand new training centre in the Central Highlands area.
"The budget also includes funding for the decommissioning and remediating the site of the former Fiskville facility. This will give our firefighters the facilities and resources they need to protect lives and property."
Moorabool Shire Council deputy mayor Paul Tatchell was pleased money in the budget was allocated to the training centres – but hoped the development of a brand new Central Highlands facility would not take away from the promised Ballan centre. Cr Tatchell said the year long wait for confirmation of new site and the size of the project had taken a significant toll on the Ballan area. Fiskville had previously been the life-blood of the town and many businesses had struggled since its impromptu closure, he said. Earlier this year Ms Garrett admitted the government may be forced to investigate compulsory acquisition of land, with the government.
“It’s been a very long process and a lot of damage has been done,” Mr Tatchell said.
The council is hopeful the $80 million for decommissioning the site will ensure it can be used for future commercial projects.
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