Bushfire Risk Treatment Standards reduce red tape for Western Australian property owners

New bushfire standards address a key observation of the Ferguson Inquiry into the 2016 Waroona Fire, which identified the need for state agencies to consider policy options for the clearing of vegetation by owners.
New bushfire standards address a key observation of the Ferguson Inquiry into the 2016 Waroona Fire, which identified the need for state agencies to consider policy options for the clearing of vegetation by owners.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services have released new standards for Western Australian residents to have greater authority to protect their homes from bushfires.

Effective from November 7, 2020 new Bushfire Risk Treatment Standards reduce red tape for landowners and occupiers who live within bushfire prone areas.

Residents will be allowed to clear vegetation within 20 metres of their property without breaching state or local government laws with the exception of areas with significant environmental or heritage value.

Exclusions to the standards exclude removing trees or vegetation in areas which could have a negative impact on the natural environment or heritage.

City of Busselton director of planning and development service Paul Needham said exceptions to the standards were quite wide-ranging, and would affect quite significant areas in the region.

Mitigation on private property has previously been subject to a convoluted mix of laws and regulations across WA, and residents who cleared their land to reduce bushfire risk were potentially open to prosecution.

Provided residents comply with the new standards, they now have the legal authority to create a defendable space around their property, which research shows is one of the most effective methods of protecting properties from bushfires.

It will be the responsibility of landowners and occupiers to ensure that these standards apply to their property before undertaking any clearing or modification of vegetation.

Planned burning is also not permitted as a form of clearing under the standards and will still require a permit under the Bush Fires Act 1954.

Commissioner Klemm said research showed that clearing vegetation near your house is one of the most important things you can do to help protect it from a bushfire.

"However, prior to these Standards being introduced, residents could clear native vegetation around their property for firewood, but not for the purpose of reducing bushfire risks.

"This underlined the inconsistencies that existed throughout the state, and demonstrated the need for a clear set of principles that prioritise community safety."

The Bush Fire Risk Treatment Standards can be found at dfes.wa.gov.au/bushfire/prepare/.

This story New bushfire standards reduce red tape for Western Australian property owners first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.