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Bushfire Management: What you need to know and why now?


Did you know that our Environment team at Wolter Consulting Group specialises in Bushfire Management and Planning?

We do not have much room left in urban situations where we don’t come across an interface between bushland and housing in a residential development.  There is a certain level of responsibility that developers and development consultants carry for what we are creating and how safe our communities are.

Below, our Bushfire Management Expert Stephen Hayes responds to some of the most commonly asked questions by our Developer clients and explains what a Bushfire Management Plan comprises and what it could mean for your existing or new development projects. In brief:

Why you need a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP)?  

You may need BMP in response to either State or Local Government Planning requirements to proceed with your Development Application. 

More importantly, however, you need it to reduce the potential for loss of property and loss of life in the event of an outbreak of a wild fire. As history has proven bushfire can and does impact people’s lives and livelihoods.

Planning a bushfire resilient development provides the end users with greater security from the ever-increasing bushfire threat. 

Making your potential property buyers aware that Bushfire Management has been considered in the Development process, and dealt with in the best way possible, will provide a sense of security for the purchaser and the local community. 

What does a BMP comprise?  

The first part is the Bushfire Hazard Assessment which identifies things like:  

  • Vegetation types around the development that may be fire-prone 

  • The likely direction and conduits that a fire front might advance from based on climatic and topographical conditions 

  • Estimation of the intensity of a fire that might affect the development 

  • Risk assessment of the potential population and how they might influence a bushfire or react to a bushfire 

  • And numerous other important factors 

All are site specific. 

Hazard Assessment is really a ground exercise and looks at the site vegetation mapping and looks at the actual conditions present. It applies various different methods and calculations to ensure the outcome is realistic.  

The second part of the plan is the actual Management Plan.  It identifies most appropriate strategies to mitigate the hazard present.  We look at things like: 

  • Setback (Asset Protection Zone) requirements 

  • Minimum building construction standards

  • Water supply requirements 

  • Site evacuation requirements and 

  • Landscaping limitations 

We look at a series of situations (site specific scenarios) and at how we can reduce the potential for property and life loss.  

This plan is a living document which is passed on from owner to owner.  Again, it provides the potential buyer an extra sense of security. In the recent extended intense fire seasons, this is something we really need to consider if we are to create communities that thrive and are resilient to natural hazards. 

What about my YIELD? 

Theres a lot of concern around the potential for loss of yield as a result of the BMP. This impact of the BMP will depend on the site itself. For example, steep sites with bushland are harder to deal with than flat sites. However, what needs to be realised is that Council will require the BMP to be prepared so it can’t be viewed as ‘loss of yield’ but as the true safe, development yield the site has potential for to begin with. When we design a BMP for a development we always do our best to balance safe resilient design with commercial outcomes. 

For all your Bushfire Management questions and services, please do not hesitate to contact Stephen Hayes on (07) 3666 5200 


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