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The re-evaluation of the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code by David Holland

25 Oct

Questions are raised in the discussion paper, ‘enhancing hazard reduction in NSW’, put out by the Bush Fire coordinating committee (BFCC) in August 2012.

This paper attempt to cover two fundamental questions related to the Bush fire Environmental Code.

Question 8: Should the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code (BFEAC) be amended to further streamline the environmental assessment process? If so, how should this be done? Can you provide examples of when the Code has worked well and when it has not?

Question 9: What steps could be taken to dispel the perception that environmental issues prevent hazard reduction?

The answer is to incorporate the detail of the treatments, planning and environmental constraint such as fire frequency intervals in the Risk Management Plans (RMPs) prepared by the Bush Fire Management committees (BFMCs).

Presently not enough detail and not enough reportable assessments are available in the RMPs.

This paper highlights the legal requirements of the BFEAC with respect to environmental assessment.

It demonstrates through three case studies the pitfalls of large scale and wholesale placement of Special Fire Advantage Zones (SFAZ) across the landscape recommended by the Rural Fire Service (RFS).

Each application of the SFAZ in the case studies below, highlight different environmental values and impacts caused by the treatment required under the BFEAC and the definition of a SFAZ under the BFCC policy document. (Annex B of the Bush Fire Coordinating Committee Policy No. 1/2008)

Finally the paper puts forward several recommendations to be considered by the BFCC to improve the way the ecology is treated under the procedures of the BFMCs and the BFEAC.

The answers to the questions are that any changes to the BFEAC must better assess the environmental values before applying any fire suppression treatments.

To Read Discussion Paper:

Discussion Paper on enhancing hazard reduction in NSW

Case Study 1 on Wyrrabalong National Park NSW

Case Study 2 near Deakin Street Lake Munmorah NSW

Case Study 3 near Tonkiss Street Tuggerah NSW

Appendix 1 & 2 showing Risk Management Plan mapping of SFAZs

<click here> for full document (warning: long down load time)

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