THE West Australian Government last week said planning schemes across the state will include mandatory provisions for the construction of new homes in bushfire-prone areas, as identified in the Building Code of Australia and the Australian Standards AS3959.
Planning Minister John Day said the building standards would apply from May next year to new homes built in areas identified by the State or local government as bushfire-prone, or if the house was located within 100 metres of one hectare or more of bushland.
"If land intended for development is located on a bushfire map or close to a large area of bushland a bushfire hazard assessment will be required," Mr Day said, adding that the assessment will identify the bushfire risk level and the Australian Standards to be applied when the new home is constructed.
"These standards are used in many jurisdictions across Australia and include requirements such as the placement of ember screens over evaporative air-conditioner units, window screens and appropriate construction methods," the Minister said.
"These measures could make a difference to how severely a home is affected by a bushfire."
Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said land would be identified as bushfire-prone or not, through uniform, state-wide maps. The Fire and Emergency Services commissioner will lead the mapping and declaration process, recommended by the Keelty Report into the Perth Hills bushfires.
"Once complete, these maps will be made available to the public," Mr Francis said.
Also last week, the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) released the new State Planning Policy and Planning Guidelines on Bushfire Risk Management for public comment.
Mr Day said these documents would provide government and developers with greater guidance when planning new developments in bushfire-prone areas.
"Through the Australian Standards, State mapping and the new State planning policy and guidelines, this Government is taking a holistic approach to limit the impact of bushfire on our communities," Mr Day said.
Public consultation for the State Planning Policy closes on 4 July 2014 and comment on the guidelines is due by 1 August 2014. More information is available from the PlanningWA website at <http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/>.