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New rules for some bushfire risk areas in regional SA

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New rules for some bushfire risk areas in regional SA

November 2006

New planning and building requirements are now in place for dwellings to be built in the future in identified bushfire risk areas in South Australia; on the Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, the South East and Yorke Peninsula.

The initiative is the first time explicit bushfire-related planning and building requirements similar to those existing within the Mt Lofty Ranges have been extended to bushfire risk areas in other parts of the State.

The changes follow a detailed community consultation process across the 14 local council areas affected, utilising detailed bushfire risk mapping.

Altogether about 500 pages of information, including some 300 maps, were prepared to define the new Bushfire Protection Areas.

The mapping and analysis involved working with satellite images, weather statistics, vegetation and fuel load data, and population growth information.

The result was various areas within these regions were classified into one of three levels of bushfire risk - high, medium or general risk.

The newly-mapped and classified bushfire risk areas were cross-checked with local councils, bushfire protection officers and the SA Country Fire Service, and then released for wider public input.

Each level of bushfire risk now attracts different planning and building requirements for future dwellings. As the level of risk increases, the requirements grow.

The requirements are similar to those that apply in the Mt Lofty Ranges and are in line with the recommendations that have been made to people building in bushfire risk areas for many years.

They include having dedicated water supplies for fire fighting, buffer zones between homes and flammable or combustible vegetation, appropriate access roads, and building features which increase bushfire protection, such as covers under eaves, metal fly wire screens and steel shoes for posts. Referral to the CFS is required for proposals in the highest risk areas.

The proposed changes do not affect existing dwellings (unless they are being extended by more than 50 percent). There are also some ‘excluded’ areas within the identified bushfire risk areas where enhanced protection measures are not required, including townships with adequate water supply and fire-fighting access.

The councils with areas where the new rules will now apply are:

  • Eyre Peninsula Councils: Lower Eyre Peninsula (DC), Port Lincoln (City), Tumby Bay (DC), Streaky Bay (DC), Elliston (DC)
  • South East Councils: Robe (DC), Naracoorte & Lucindale (DC), Grant (DC), Tatiara (DC), Kingston (DC), Wattle Range Council, Mt Gambier (City)
  • Yorke Peninsula: Yorke Peninsula (DC)
  • Kangaroo Island: Kangaroo Island Council

Changes for the mid-North, Riverland, Murray Bridge, and some fringe northern metropolitan and outer metropolitan areas are also on the way.

These were released for community consultation earlier this year, and are currently being finalised. Parts of the following 12 local council areas will be affected by those new requirements:

  • Mid-North Councils: Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council, Mt Remarkable (DC), Northern Areas Council, Port Pirie Regional Council, Wakefield Regional Council
  • Riverland Councils: Berri Barmera Council, Renmark Paringa (DC)
  • Murray Bridge: Murray Bridge (RC)
  • Northern Metropolitan & Outer Metropolitan Councils: Gawler (CT), Light Regional Council, Mallala (DC), City of Salisbury

Planning SA will assist councils and the public with implementing the new policies through the provision of internet-based tools.

The first of these – which will help determine whether any specific development proposal is within a bushfire risk area, the category of risk that applies, and what will be required – should be available online before Christmas. Training for council, industry and interested members of the public will be offered in regional centres in the New Year.

This will be further developed as an assessment tool for use by councils over the course of next year.

The work on the Bushfire Plan Amendment Report (PAR) which led to the policy changes was recognised with an Award for Excellence from the Planning Institute of Australia (SA).

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