Section 146 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) requires that Local Councils prepare a bush fire prone land map identifying vegetation within the LGA that has the potential to support a bush fire. The bush fire prone land map is the trigger for the consideration of bush fire protection measures for new development (Planning for Bush Fire Protection and Australian Standard 3959-2009 – Construction of buildings in bush fire prone areas).
Council's Bush Fire Prone Land Map (BFPLM) 2012, certified by the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) on 27 April 2012, utilised the most recent aerial photography to produce a mapping layer that differentiates between vegetation likely to support bush fire and areas not likely to support bushfire. This mapping layer was then modelled by Council GIS officers, in accordance with RFS guidelines, to produce a BFPLM which was assessed and certified by the RFS.
The BFPLM has major implications for Council's development, subdivision and building assessment processes as the identification of properties affected by this mapping generates the need for some form of technical assessment of bushfire risk and necessary management practices for new and in-fill developments.
Council is also required to update this bushfire risk information for Section 149 Certificates and their related conveyancing processes.
The BFPLM is required to be updated every 5 years.
Currently Councils BFPLM includes two vegetation categories with different width buffers dependent upon the potential risk of fire posed by the vegetation.
Vegetation Category 1
Vegetation Category 1 is considered to be the highest risk for bush fire. It is represented as solid orange on the bush fire prone land map and will be given a 100m buffer. This vegetation category has the highest combustibility and likelihood of forming fully developed fires including heavy ember production.
Vegetation Category 1 consists of:
- Areas of forest, woodlands, heaths (tall and short), forested wetlands and timber plantations
Vegetation Category 2
Vegetation Category 2 is considered to be the lowest risk for bush fire. It is represented as solid yellow on a bush fire prone land map and will be given a 30 metre buffer.
This vegetation category has lower combustibility and/or limited potential fire size due to the vegetation area shape and size, land geography and management practices.
Vegetation Category 2 consists of:
- Lower risk vegetation parcels. These vegetation parcels represent a lower bush fire risk to surrounding development and consist of:
- Remnant vegetation;
- Land with ongoing land management practices that actively reduces bush fire risk. These areas must be subject to a plan of management or similar that demonstrates that the risk of bush fire is offset by strategies that reduce bush fire risk; AND include:
- Discrete urban reserve/s;
- Parcels that are isolated from larger uninterrupted tracts of vegetation and known fire paths;
- Shapes and topographies which do not permit significant upslope fire runs towards development;
- Suitable access and adequate infrastructure to support suppression by firefighters;
- Vegetation that represents a lower likelihood of ignitions because the vegetation is surrounded by development in such a way that an ignition in any part of the vegetation has a higher likelihood of detection.
These are shown as solid red on the maps for both categories and represent the area within which the impacts of a bushfire, such as ember attack, are likely to be experienced by adjoin landholders to mapped bushland areas.
Bush Fire Prone Land mapping is intended to designate areas of the State that are considered to be higher bush fire risk for development control purposes. Not being designated bush fire prone is not a guarantee that losses from bush fires will not occur.
Changes to the landscape may occur from time to time and therefore the certified bush fire prone land maps may not be a true indication of bush fire risk.