Bushfire risks hurts trading

Bushfire prone areas in the City of Busselton. Image supplied.
Bushfire prone areas in the City of Busselton. Image supplied.

Residents in the region fear the planning in bushfire prone areas policy set by the WA Planning Commission is too restrictive.

Following on from the report ‘Yallingup landowners lose SAT case to bushfire risk’(published March 1) residents contacted the Mail concerned  the policy was restricting their ability to do business from their properties.

One resident who wished to remain anonymous said that because they did not have two access points meant they were unable to sell produce directly from their property.

City of Busselton director of planning and development services Paul Needham said bushfire risk was not the sole reason the development application was not approved at SAT.

Mr Needham said the requirements to have multiple means of access in and out of a property have existed prior to the current state policy.

He said the city broadly supported the state’s policy direction on planning for bushfire safety.

“Bushfire is a very serious issue for our community, and it is important that it is a high priority as part of the planning process,” he said.

“Most of the things provided for in current state policy reflect things that were previously identified in the city’s own policies, which have been rescinded now that more comprehensive policy at the state level has been introduced.” 

Mr Needham said the state policy requires most new developments have multiple means of access and egress – essentially, at least two ways in and out.

“This does affect the development potential of some sites,” he said.

“The reason for this requirement is to reduce the likelihood that, in the event of a bushfire, people are unable to get out if there is a bushfire in the area and/or that emergency services will be unable to get in to fight a fire, or to get out safely.  

“Community safety and especially the safety of emergency services personnel are obviously very important considerations”.

A WA Planning Commission spokesperson said the policy was introduced in 2015 and reviewed periodically. It helps protect lives and property against the threat of bushfires in WA

“The guidelines set out a range of criteria, including vehicle access, to be addressed when submitting planning proposals. It is important that each application is assessed on its own merits against the guidelines,” the spokesperson said.