Posted 23/9/11

 

New Bushfire Prone Standards & Mapping - September 2011

 

 

New minimum standard for the construction of houses in bushfire prone areas

bushfire prone areas

 

New ongoing building regulations for building in bushfire prone areas, which form part of the new planning and building system improvements delivered in response to the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, came into effect on 8 September 2011.

 

The Building Amendment (Bushfire Construction) Regulations 2011 replace interim regulations which were put in place following the February 2009 bushfires.

 

The new ongoing building regulations have three key features:

 

1. Minister for Planning now determines designated bushfire prone areas

Following the Black Saturday bushfires the whole of Victoria was declared a bushfire prone area. Under the new Regulations, the Minister for Planning has designated bushfire prone areas across the State for the purposes of the building control system.

View the maps showing designated bushfire prone areas for each local government area

 

This means that only those landowners or developers seeking to build new homes in designated bushfire prone areas will need to undertake a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment to determine the specific construction requirements for their homes.

 

2. Apply a minimum construction requirement in bushfire prone areas

Under the new Regulations all new homes in bushfire prone areas are required to be built to a minimum BAL 12.5 providing some level of ember protection as recommended by the Victoria Bushfire Royal Commission. Ember attack is the predominant bushfire attack mechanism and most houses that are burnt in a bushfire are burnt because of ember attack.

 

3. Retain the integration of the planning and building system

The new Regulations retain the integration of the planning and building system introduced in March 2010 by continuing the requirement for building surveyors to accept a BAL assessment obtained in the planning system.

 

Information about the new Regulations can be obtained from the Building Commission website or by phoning 1300 360 320 between 9.00am to 5.00pm on Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

 

Planning for wildfire protection

 

The following practice note provides guidance about the wildfire protection provisions in planning schemes in Victoria.

 

Practice Note 21 - Planning for wildfire protection, revised February 2010 (PDF - 168 KB)

 

Planning and responsible authorities must have regard to several documents when considering land use or development in wildfire risk environments, including:

Vegetation removal for bushfire protection

 

Interim measures for bushfire protection - the '10/30 right'

 

After the experiences of the devastating bushfires in February 2009, the Victorian Government made it simpler for landowners in bushfire prone areas to reduce the bushfire risk around their homes as part of their wider preparations for bushfire.

 

An interim planning provision was introduced, Clause 52.43 -Interim measures for bushfire protection (PDF - 27 KB), to enable the removal, destruction or lopping of vegetation to reduce fuel load around existing buildings used for accommodation and on roadsides without a planning permit, to assist with minimising risk to life and property from bushfire. The planning permit exemptions in Clause 52.43 are commonly referred to as the '10/30 right' because of the distances within which different types of vegetation can removed for bushfire protection without a planning permit.

 

The permit exemptions, including the '10/30 right', have been extended until 1 March 2012 while the Government implements new planning provisions for bushfire and vegetation removal in response to the recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

 

More information about the interim planning provision is available from the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) website and Advisory Note 32 - Interim measures for bushfire protection, August 2010 (PDF - 476 KB).

 

Before you remove vegetation for bushfire protection you should read the information about understanding bushfire risk provided in this information sheet.

 

Vegetation removal for bushfire protection - information for landowners and residents (PDF - 196 KB)

 

Vegetation removal for bushfire protection (DOC - 74 KB)

 

Information about other planning permit exemptions for removing vegetation in preparation for bushfire is provided in the DSE fact sheet Clearing of native vegetation to prepare for bushfires (PDF - 598 KB) and in these DPCD practice and advisory notes on native vegetation and wildfire.

 

More information about understanding your bushfire risk, preparing your property and developing a Bushfire Survival Plan is available from the CFA website or by contacting the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

 

Managing landslip and erosion risk

 

Vegetation plays an important role in reducing erosion and stabilising soil to minimise the risk of landslip.

 

Erosion occurs when soil is lost through rain, wind or the repeated movement of people, animals or vehicles. In dry periods erosion can cause dust problems. During and after significant rainfall events, erosion can lead to blocked drains, damaged pumps and damaged stream systems by clouding the water and smothering habitat. Erosion results in the loss of valuable topsoil, reduces soil fertility and makes it difficult for grass or other vegetation to regrow.

 

A landslip can occur when the ground is not strong enough to support its own weight, causing a slope to collapse. Land slippage can result in significant damage to buildings and is a risk to life, both on and below the landslip area. The removal of vegetation, particularly deep-rooted, long lasting trees, and plants that have a large root system, can increase landslip risk.

 

How can I identify landslip and erosion risk?

How should I respond to landslip and erosion risk?

More information about erosion and landslip is available on the Department of Primary Industries website

 

Bushfire provisions for public buildings

 

Ministerial Direction No. 3 - Bushfire Provisions for Buildings of a Public Nature applies to construction undertaken by Victorian Government departments and agencies. A bushfire attack risk assessment is required as part of the design process.

 

Information sourced from DPCD website.  Find out more by going to:

http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/planning-policy-and-projects/bushfire-planning-and-building/planning-and-building-for-bushfire