Western Australia Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti
Western Australia Minister for Emergency Services Francis Logan
New Action Plan To Fix Bushfire Inconsistencies
Victor P Taffa
- 3-stage plan to address inconsistencies across bushfire regulations
- Community safety remains top priority in review of bushfire-prone area map
- Bushfire framework introduced under previous government created unintended consequences
- Stage 1 increases minimum declared bushfire-prone area from one to four hectares in the Perth Central sub-region
- CSIRO to develop new mapping standard for the rest of the State as part of stage 2
McGowan Government has announced a 3-stage action plan to address the inherited inconsistencies across Western Australia’s bushfire frameworks, standards and mapping.
“Review of the bushfire frameworks followed ongoing discussions with local governments, aggrieved landowners and those in the housing industry.” Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti said.
“While everyone acknowledges that safety is top priority, the consensus was that the bushfire framework introduced in 2015 created some unintended consequences.”
$1.5 Million Action Plan for Bushfire Framework Review 2019 will ensure that bushfire planning and building frameworks remain robust and based on scientific evidence while also providing better recognition of specific landscapes and bushfire risks.
As part of the first stage of the plan, a new Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas will be gazetted tomorrow by the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner.
It will increase the minimum area of declared bushfire prone vegetation from 1-4 ha in the metropolitan Perth Central sub-region.
Change will apply across 19 local governments from Stirling to Belmont to Fremantle, resulting in a 30 % reduction in the number of properties declared bushfire prone and requiring additional planning and building costs.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner has also brought forward the scheduled 5-year review of the Mapping Standard for Bush Fire Prone Areas, which are used to inform the update of the map each year.
“Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas is an important tool to ensure the safety of Western Australian communities, but it needed greater consistency and a more rigorous assessment on the ground.” Minister for Emergency Services Francis Logan said.
“McGowan Government has now allocated $1.5 Million for the various agencies and the CSIRO to more thoroughly and accurately develop the standards and methodology that should be applied in managing bushfire risks.”
Review will aim to improve the quality of the mapping, ensure changes to the methodology are founded in science and will examine the interaction of the map with other land uses.
A multi-agency working group will also conduct ground-truth assessments of land currently declared bushfire prone but which may pose a lower bushfire risk such as golf courses, verge strips and coastal dunes to re-evaluate their appropriateness for inclusion on the map.
Stage 2 of the Action Plan is a $520,000 CSIRO study to develop a new mapping methodology. The intermittent release of updated maps expanding from the Perth Central sub-region, outer metropolitan and major regional centres with a new State-wide map expected to be released in late 2020.
Stage 3 will seek to reduce the regulatory burden by amending relevant policies in line with new mapping protocols, including State Planning Policy 3.7 Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas and the Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas.
Action Plan for Bushfire Framework Review 2019 has also considered the recommendations made by Dr. Tony Buti MLA in the Bushfire Planning and Policy Review: A Review into the Western Australian Framework for Planning and Development in Bushfire Prone Areas (the Buti Report).
CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation