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Why Consider Bush Fire

Bush fire presents a major challenge to the community.  It has been a natural part of our landscape for thousands of years and remains an ever-present threat. Prior to August 2002 the potential impacts of bush fire on new development across NSW did not require consideration. As such, residential settlement patterns demanded by a growing population, have occurred in areas that are bush fire prone placing lives and property at risk.  

In response to devastating losses of life and property in past bush fire events, on 1st of August 2002, the NSW Government enacted legislative changes to ensure bush fire matters were considered in the development process.  

These legislative changes resulted in the creation of section 79BA of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and section 100B of the Rural Fires Act 1997 which require all new development on bush fire prone land to comply with Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006. The provisions set out in Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006 form the basis for all bush fire planning and bush fire protection measures for new development in NSW.  

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the Codes SEPP) has been amended to significantly expand the range of exempt and complying development across the State and increase the number of properties to which the Codes SEPP applies.

As a result, in February 2011, low risk bush fire prone land will no longer be excluded from the Codes SEPP. The NSW Department of Planning and the NSW Rural Fire Service have worked together to introduce a new system which allows complying development on some bush fire prone land, but importantly maintains a rigorous assessment regime for managing bush fire risk.

By improving land use planning including building design, construction and maintenance in bush fire prone areas, development consent authorities (e.g. council) are incorporating management strategies crucial to mitigating the impact of bush fire on buildings and the community.  

Buildings can be destroyed or damaged from bush fire due to a number of forms of attack; ember attack, radiant heat and or direct flame contact. Wind can weaken the building elements and make them more susceptible to these forms of attack whilst smoke can impact upon the health of the occupants and fire fighters.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has, under the Rural Fires Act 1997, a statutory obligation to protect life, property and the environment through fire suppression and fire prevention.  

For further information, contact the NSW RFS Planning and Environmental Services Centre hotline number 1300 NSW RFS (1300 679 737) or call the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737) option 4.