Hawkesbury included in new vegetation clearing laws

FROM tomorrow, residents in designated areas will be able to protect their homes from bushfires, with the introduction of new 10/50 vegetation clearing laws. 

A bushfire at Windsor Downs Reserve, last year. Picture: Kylie Pitt

A bushfire at Windsor Downs Reserve, last year. Picture: Kylie Pitt

The law was introduced to make it easier to clear trees and vegetation from around homes in risk identified areas.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Stuart Ayres said the state government was committed to removing regulatory obstacles for home owners to allow them to adequately prepare their home ahead of the 2014/15 bushfire season. 

“By streamlining the processes for people to remove trees and vegetation, these laws are giving people greater flexibility to improve the safety of their homes,” Mr Ayres said.

“The new laws allow people in the designated areas to remove trees within 10 metres of their home, and clear vegetation other than trees within 50 metres of their home, provided they comply with the NSW RFS Code of Practice.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons reminded residents in the designated areas to understand their obligations and check whether they are in the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area prior to removing vegetation or trees.

“The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice outlines a number of restrictions which may be relevant, including locations of cultural significance or the slope of their property,” he said.

The new laws will also apply to schools, childcare centres and hospitals that are situated within the designated areas.

The RFS will have an online tool available where people can check if they’re in a designated 10/50 vegetation entitlement clearing area. People can enter their address or lot number into the RFS website to see if the new arrangements apply to them.

Visit: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/1050-vegetation-clearing/tool

Included in the changes are higher penalties for 18 fire-related offences. 

“Among the increases are penalties for littering involving cigarettes and matches, which has doubled to $660 and to $1320 when littering occurs on a day of a Total Fire Ban,” Mr Ayres said.

“Fine increases will also target land owners who conduct unlawful hazard reduction burns or fail to extinguish any type of fire.

“Residents should continue to make vital preparations for the upcoming bushfire season, including hazard reduction burns where appropriate. These activities just need to be conducted responsibly.”

The RFS will work closely with NSW Police to ensure the new laws are implemented.