Communities want simpler bushfire overlays

Communities want simpler bushfire overlays

23 April 2014

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Australia — PLANNING changes will ease the burden on fire-affected communities rebuilding but details on amendments to complicated Bushfire Management Overlays are yet to be revealed.

Permit exemptions will be extended for 2009 bushfire rebuilding efforts and continued use of temporary accommodation allowed under changes announced by Planning Minister Matthew Guy last week.

But communities want action to ease the restrictive BMO system introduced on the back of a Bushfires Royal Commission recommendation.

The overlays make it expensive and in some cases impossible to get permits to build in bushfire-prone areas.

Mr Guy told The Weekly Times last year the laws were complex and needed to be simpler and promised the government would review them.

This week a spokesman for the Victorian Government said a review of the BMO system would be completed by May.

Kate Cotter heads a group of more than 6000 landholders unable to build as a result of the BMO system.

She described it as “an absolute nightmare”.

“Most people are just in financial ruin at the moment because they are spending their building money on rent.

“You see policy made about trying to encourage people to rural and regional Victoria, but you’ve got a planning system that is contradictory to that.”

Yarra Ranges Shire Mayor Fiona McAllister said the BMOs made it impossible to build on some blocks and had rendered some land worthless.

“We met with Minister Guy six to eight weeks ago and it was a pretty constructive meeting but there is still no detail on what the new detail of the new BMO will be to resolve the issue,” Cr McAllister said.

“We’ve got landholders who can’t currently meet the requirements and we’ve got others who can’t afford to meet the requirements and that’s of real concern for us. There are ways to balance protection of life and property while still providing people with affordable options to build.”

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