THE Victorian Government last week said it has received a positive response to its voluntary Bushfire Buy-back Scheme, with more than 100 landowners choosing to sell properties in some of the state's worst affected bushfire areas.
Deputy Premier and Bushfire Response Minister Peter Ryan said the $50 million scheme was established to provide options for landowners severely affected by the 2009 bushfires.
"So far 108 landowners have accepted offers from the Coalition Government under the scheme, giving them the opportunity to move on from the tragic events of February 2009," Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said than in total, 137 landowners have been given offers from the Coalition Government, with settlement reached on 66 properties; 42 properties are still in the process of settling; and a number of other landowners are still considering whether they wish to proceed.
Mr Ryan said the Bushfire Buy-Back Scheme responded to Recommendation 46 of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission final report and was part of the government's ongoing commitment to support bushfire-affected communities.
"The Coalition Government promised to implement this recommendation and we are delivering on that commitment, after the former Labor Government refused to accept it," Mr Ryan said.
According to Mr Ryan, properties under the scheme have been assessed against strict criteria and valued at both pre-2009 and current market rates, with eligible landowners receiving the highest of the two valuations.
"The work of the Bushfire Land Acquisition Panel, chaired by the Hon Patrick McNamara, has been critical to the success of the scheme and I thank the panel for the important role they have played in offering new opportunities to bushfire-affected people," Mr Ryan said.
He said the panel will now make recommendations on the best possible future use for the acquired land, prohibiting future residential redevelopment and ensuring any bushfire risk is managed.