Construction requirements the sensible approach

The Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) has announced their support for new special construction requirements for new homes built in bushfire prone areas recently detailed by the state government.

Announced at the start of May, the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner would map all bushfire prone areas that are to be automatically incorporated into town planning schemes.

WALGA President Mayor Troy Pickard said the move by State Government was in line with the Perth Hills bushfire Inquiry’s recommendation that the State Government take responsibility for declaring bushfire prone areas.

“It would be difficult to imagine anyone who could object to the implementation of these requirements for the construction of new homes in bushfire prone areas.”

“It is the responsible approach to helping ensure that the risk is minimised as much as possible for both the safety of the community and the emergency services personnel in having to contain outbreaks.

“The additional requirements may increase the cost of construction of new homes in these areas but the price of not taking these measures will eventually be counted in lives lost.”

The new scheme provisions will be introduced through regulations from May 1, 2015 and will not require local schemes to be individually amended.

Mayor Pickard said that he was hopeful that the State Government would also show leadership in other aspects of managing the threat of bushfire, in particular the outcomes of the review of the three emergency services Acts.

A paper on the consolidation of the Acts by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services is currently open for public comment until July 31.

“A key intent of the paper to effectively ensure all individuals and groups take responsibility for bushfire mitigation on their land is a positive step forward,” Mayor Pickard said.

“Relative to the costs of these mitigation works, Local Government is hopeful that the State will show leadership and recognise that if these tasks were to fall solely to Local Government, it would cost the sector $50 million per annum to implement.

“It is imperative that new funds are provided to enable the additional responsibilities as proposed to be effectively implemented.

“The existing emergency services levy is the most appropriate and equitable mechanism to raise funds to achieve this.”