Owners of residential property in fire prone areas throughout New South Wales will have greater power to clear trees and vegetation around their home in order to minimise fire risk under new laws passed by both houses of the state.
Under a new rule known as the 10/50 rule, residents whose homes are within an area designated by the Rural Fire Service as a bushfire zone area will be allowed to clear trees within 10 metres of their house and shrubs and other vegetation within 50 metres of their house.
Staff at high risk commercial facilities such as schools, child care centres and hospitals, meanwhile, will also be able to remove trees and vegetation that pose danger where their facilities lie within the designated zones.
The latest moves come after the damage wrought by last year’s fires in the Blue Mountains, which saw hundreds of homes and other structures burnt out and two lives lost.
The new laws also follow planning changes which will spare owners who wish to build on subdivided lots from having to undertake separate bushfire risk assessments where an assessment had already been made for the subdivision in question and which will allow the RFS to update Bushfire Prone Land Maps of new release areas to ensure these accurately reflect current risks rather than waiting for local councils to update these every five years.
NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres said the new laws would allow homeowners to take the necessary steps to protect their home in the event of a bushfire.
“Last summer we saw the devastating impact of bushfire,” Ayres said in a statement. “The new rules ensure we cut the red tape for residents whose homes are located in designated areas close to bushland, so they can clear trees and vegetation from their property.”
Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage agreed, saying residents in her region must be given every chance to protect their homes.
“We need to ensure communities such as the Blue Mountains are prepared for bushfire and these changes will give residents the flexibility they need to clear their property from that risk,” she said.
The changes will come into effect following a consultation period which will commence shortly.