Thursday, September 4, 2014

BCCT Response to Madness of 10/50 Rule

Rural Fire Service 10/50 Clearing Code of Practice
Stop the Madness. Mosman Council is pushing for an exemption –Will Hornsby?
The Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust has been active for 50 years in protecting the heritage, environment and character of Beecroft and Cheltenham. We were horrified to hear that the NSW Government passed this law on 1st August without any announcement or community consultation. In areas declared fire prone, landowners can clear trees within 10m of habitable building and vegetation within 50m. This is ostensibly to protect homes from bushfires. However, that areas declared fire prone have been increased and now encompass some 96% of Cheltenham and 90%of Beecroft. It includes areas which are never likely to be affected by fire. We have very substantial concerns with the impact this will have on our suburbs, known for their bushland. It will affect large swathes of sensitive and valued bushland including 85% of Hornsby Shire and many other parts of Sydney. We have asked that a halt be imposed on this legislation until the consequences are fully examined.

Our concerns are:

1.    The scheme does not address the reality of bushfire risk and may reduce the adoption of more effective measures against bushfires.
2.    It allows widespread clearing of trees and vegetation in large suburban areas which in reality are extremely unlikely to be affected at risk from bushfire.
3.    It adds a 250m buffer to the existing 100m buffer around previously declared fire prone areas.
4.    It fails to consider environmental and heritage importance of trees, biodiversity, wildlife habitats and soil erosion which may occur with clearing sloping land.
5.    It fails to consider measures already in in place to ensure fire mitigation in houses and buildings adjoining bushland and bushfire prevention measures such as controlled burning, community fire pumps and training.
The Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust requests that the Government put an immediate halt to implementing this legislation It allows landowners excessive and unwarranted ability to remove trees, regardless of their contribution to bushfire risk. This will result in loss of biodiversity and environmental damage. It needs to be reconsidered so that these undesirable consequences are avoided.

We would suggest:

•      Making a distinction in policy between rural and urban areas.
•      Considering exemptions for sensitive and endangered species, wildlife corridors and heritage areas.
•      Redrawing the maps of fire prone areas so that they more accurately reflect fire risk. If the existing maps are to be used, the additional 250m buffer zone should be removed.
•      Considering exemptions where Councils have implemented measures to mitigate fire risk.
•      Encouraging more fire mitigation measures.
•      Returning control for local issues to Councils.
Please write to Greg Smith, the Mayor and your C ward Councillors requesting Government put a halt to this legislation and that Hornsby Shire and the Beecroft Cheltenham Heritage Area be declared exempt .

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