Coonabarabran fire damages could have been reduced: study

Could a weather radar service in the Orana region have changed the course of the 2013 Coonabarabran fire that wiped out 53 properties and 93 per cent of the Warrumbungle National Park?

A new study supporting the establishment of the service notes "some stakeholders have indicated that better weather radar would have assisted with the management of this fire".

The Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) commissioned the study that has identified the greatest benefits offered by enhanced weather information to be social and economic.

But, environmental benefits can be achieved, largely in the areas of bushfire prevention and avoidance of contamination from agricultural and mine chemicals, the study confirms.

The fire that ravaged about 148,000 hectares of the Pilliga forest also gets a mention in the document, along with the seven-week and 30,000 hectare blaze in the Goobang National Park which claimed 1000 sheep and hundreds of kilometres of fencing.

"Stakeholders reported that these fires could have been better managed with more accurate radar," the study reported.

It asserts that accurate weather forecasts can help minimise the volume of agrochemicals used by farmers, make their application more effective and restricting run-off and spray drift.

"Overseas studies estimate that between 50 and 75 per cent of asset damage during flood losses could be avoided with appropriate warning and prevention methods, including moving toxic materials and chemicals to safe places to avoid pollution," the study reported.

"Better weather radar in the OROC region should have similar benefits. With adequate warning, mines will also be able to eliminate or minimise contamination and check containment dams, levies and weirs to avoid breaches."

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