Mayor chair: Busselton City Council to defer bushfire notice work

grant henleyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton Mayor Grant Henley.
Camera IconBusselton Mayor Grant Henley. Credit: Supplied

At its meeting on Tuesday night, the City of Busselton Council deferred any further work on its bushfire notice until at least April 2022.

As a result there will be no change to the current bushfire notice conditions until, at the earliest, 2023-24, with any future proposals to be the subject of further review and community engagement.

The council also resolved to further advocate with the State Government around bushfire-prone area mapping, and asset protection zone standards set out in State planning documents.

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Especially in areas where relatively small lots adjoin bushland reserves, including foreshore reserves, the State’s current approach can make lots difficult to develop and place very onerous restrictions on what vegetation people can plant, but the bushfire risk in such instances is often relatively low.

The council’s decision follows a period of community consultation undertaken between April and May on a draft bushfire notice.

This draft notice proposed changes to the asset protection zone in areas designated urban bushfire-prone, as well as rural-residential and rural land categories. It would also have required boundary firebreaks on rural-residential land where they are not currently required.

The proposed changes sought to align the City’s bushfire notice with State planning expectations for new developments, which assume no significant vegetation in areas close to houses. The council heard from many community members, with around 1500 people taking the time to respond to our survey or make a submission.

The consultation indicates the increased level of vegetation management that would have been required under the draft notice is inconsistent with community values — many people want to keep and/or plant trees and other vegetation around their houses. People also raised concerns about potential financial burdens to achieve compliance with the draft notice.

Management of bushfire risk is an important issue for the City and our community. It is important we are able to balance community values around environment and natural amenity, while appropriately and sensibly managing bushfire risk.

The council understands this will require further review and broad engagement with the community, and also recognises the need to communicate more effectively as part of any future review.

On behalf of the council, I’d like to thank all of those who took the time to provide their views.

The valuable input aided the council in its decision making.

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