Recent changes to Western Australia’s mapping of bushfire risk have been welcomed by industry bodies.
Bringing WA in line with the rest of Australia, the State Government announced three stages as part of its $1.5 million Action Plan for Bushfire Frame Review 2019 to address inconsistencies across WA’s bushfire frameworks, standards and mapping.
“Thanks to advancements in technology and updates to aerial imagery, this new map will be more accurate than ever before and will help address substantial differences in bushfire risks in metropolitan areas like Scarborough, compared to outer metropolitan and regional areas such as the Perth Hills or Yallingup,” Mr Logan said.
Stage one has revitalised the map of bushfire-prone areas, increasing the minimum area of declared bushfire-prone vegetation from one to four hectares in the metropolitan Perth Central sub-region.
“The delays the one-hectare minimum caused were significant and effectively sterilised land that is perfectly suitable for new development and aligns with the government objectives for increased infill development,” Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA WA) President Nick Allingame said.
Stage two will see a $520,000 CSIRO study develop new mapping methodology, while stage three will reduce regulatory burden by amending relevant policies in line with new mapping protocols.
According to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, the improvements will reduce the number of residential buildings required to comply with the bushfire construction requirements of the Building Code of Australia.
HIA Executive Director Cath Hart said it would remove red tape that had hampered housing affordability.
“This announcement is a sensible move, correcting an oversimplified approach to determining bushfire risk that has unnecessarily burdened some new homeowners with additional costs,” she said.
“New homes can be required to include additional construction components when included in a bushfire zone on maps that are provided by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
“The revision to those maps will go some way towards new homes in the central sub region of Perth being assigned a more appropriate bushfire risk than in the past.”
The change will apply across 19 local governments, and result in a 30 per cent reduction in the number of properties declared bushfire prone and requiring additional planning and building costs.
Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said Fire Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm had also brought forward a scheduled five-year review, of WA’s mapping standards by one year.