New laws have been introduced into NSW Parliament to empower residents with protecting their homes from bushfires. The new laws will make it easier to clear trees and vegetation from around a property.
NSW Premier Mike Baird, Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres and Minister for Planning Pru Goward announced the measures along with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers and Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage.
Mr Baird explained that they were removing regulatory obstacles on homeowners who want to take sensible steps to protect their properties from bushfires after seeing the devastation caused by bushfires last summer.
The new rules will ensure regulatory obstacles do not hinder residents whose homes are located in designated areas close to bushland, so they can clear trees and vegetation from their property. Under the proposed new laws people with homes in a bushfire zone will be able to clear trees within 10 metres of their house in addition to shrubs and other vegetation, except for trees, within 50 metres of their home.
The Government is working closely with the RFS to develop these new rules, which will empower landowners who are taking responsibility for minimising the fuel loads near their homes.
Mr Ayres said the locations of the designated bushfire zone areas known as a ‘10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area’ will be determined by the RFS.
According to Mr Ayres, more than 200 homes were destroyed by bushfires last season and more than 100 houses damaged. It is therefore imperative that the NSW Government gives landowners the powers they need to protect their properties from the risk of bushfires, while balancing legitimate environmental objectives.
He also encouraged all homeowners to complete a Bush Fire Survival Plan, which can be downloaded from the RFS website.
Minister for Planning Pru Goward said the new rules will also apply to non-residential buildings in designated bushfire zones. Under these changes staff at facilities including schools, child care centres and hospitals in designated zones will also be able to remove trees and vegetation that pose a bushfire risk from their property.
Welcoming the new laws, RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said they need to ensure the community was as prepared as possible for bushfire, adding that the new changes will give residents the flexibility they need to clear their property from bushfire risk.
A map of the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement areas will be published once the new laws come into force.