NSW Farmers welcomes the development of simplified rules for landholders in managing fire risk on their properties, as well as greater and clearer powers for the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner to ensure appropriate vegetation clearing on public lands.
NSW Farmers members have long been concerned about the potential fire impacts of bordering public land, and as such the Association supports sensible fire mitigation through means such as fire breaks and controlled burning in National Parks and State Forests.
Chair of the NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee, Garry Grant, said farmers will now face less red tape when trying to mitigate fire risk on their properties.
“Under an amendment to the Rural Fires Act 1997, rural landholders will be able to clear up to 25 metres on their property from the boundary without onerous approvals.”
“This will enable farmers to develop fire breaks around their properties without needing to face bureaucratic hurdles.”
“A yet to be developed Code will stipulate clearing in endangered and threatened species habitat that will help to manage fuel loads and fire risk. NSW Farmers has long urged the relaxation of restrictions on clearing invasive native species.”
“The new rules will also grant the NSW RFS Commissioner greater authority to order hazard reduction, by public authorities, where vegetation might endanger people and property. This will align the management of bushfire risk on public and private lands more closely, which is necessary for effective and efficient fire mitigation.”
NSW Farmers Conservation and Resource Management Committee chair, Bronwyn Petrie, said the new rules can aid ecological conservation through managing bushfire risk.
“Hazard reduction in public lands such as National Parks is not counter to habitat conservation. Bushfires pose a greater threat to biodiversity, as was demonstrated over the 2019/2020 summer when huge swathes of public land in NSW were destroyed by major fires.”
“Tougher hazard reduction was one of the recommendations of an independent inquiry following the devastating Black Summer fires. Hazard reduction is the most effective way of managing bushfire risk, and thereby conserving native plants and animals.”
Whilst welcoming these new rules, they need to be the first step in a suite of measures to effectively manage public lands.