Keeping communities safe in bushfire season

On 18th June 2014, the NSW Parliament passed legislation giving landowners the power to protect their homes from the threat of bushfire. The new legislation, known as ‘10/50 rule’ removes the red tape for landowners to clear trees and vegetation that could fuel bushfires during the bushfire season. These changes have been suggested to ensure that communities within these bushfire zones are prepared for bushfire season, and to also minimise the risk of loss and damage to property, like what was seen in last October’s devastating bushfires throughout the state.

Landowners will no longer require approval to clear and remove all vegetation (including trees and bushes) within 10m of a building and remove undergrowth (shrubs and other vegetation – not trees) within 50m of the building, if the property is deemed in a designated bushfire zone determined by the NSW Rural Fire Service. Trees in the 50m area may be pruned (not removed) in accordance with AS 4373-2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees.

communities-safe

The changes are expected to be implemented in time for the upcoming bushfire season, and will apply to landowners only within the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area. If you are renting a property, you will need to seek the permission of the landowner in order to carry out the clearing. The NSW Rural Fire Service will publish a mapping tool on the NSW RFS website that will allow landowners to check if their property is within the zone. There are some restrictions to the area if the land has cultural significance, if the slope is greater than 18° or if there is a river and/or streams on the property. The online tool will be able to provide guidance in these circumstances.

The 10/50 rule, along with residential accommodation, applies to; seniors housing, boarding homes, group homes and hostels, tourist and visitor accommodation, caravan and caravan parks, schools, hospitals and childcare centres. Staff of these types of facilities will be able to remove vegetation on the property that pose a bushfire risk.

For more information, the NSW RFS has released a draft Code of Practice for public exhibition until the 21st July 2014. A copy of the Code of Practice can be found on the NSW Rural Fire Service website and feedback can be submitted to 10.50@rfs.nsw.gov.au.

15th July 2014