A planned aged care facility at Sydney’s Middle Head, surrounded by National Park, represents a serious bush fire risk to any future residents, and would almost certainly be rejected if NSW bush fire safety requirements were applied. However the real dangers of bush fire risk are not being properly considered on the site because it is on Commonwealth land and tough state bush fire standards are not being followed.
Greens MP and Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The whole of this proposed aged care development is on land identified by the local council as bush fire prone and it is simply unacceptable that lesser bush fire safety standards are being applied.
“Every part of this development is planned to be within 100 meters of, beautiful, but also well-wooded and fire prone National Park.
“Research by the NSW Rural Fire Service has shown that 85% of houses are lost in the first 100 meters from bushland and that ember attack is a significant form of attack on properties.
“The threat from a bush fire is even greater for an aged care facility where residents are more vulnerable to the effects of smoke inhalation and fire, difficult to evacuate and less able to defend their own properties.
“If this development was on almost any other parcel of land in NSW then it could not be approved unless the RFS gave a special clearance certificate after closely reviewing the plans and fire safety proposals. But because it is on Commonwealth owned land the RFS is being completely sidelined.
“We have seen too often of late how ill-thought out development on bush fire prone land around Sydney places people, property and firefighters in serious danger and it is time we learned these lessons.
“Every aspect of this development presents bush fire safety concerns, from the narrow access roads through National Park, to the placement of the aged care facilities near to a recognised bush fire safety hazard and the absence of scrutiny by the RFS.
“The Sydney Harbour Trust that is assessing this development is clearly keen to access the money this developer is promising for the rights to build a private facility on public land, but safety should not be for sale,” Mr Shoebridge said.
See the Greens’ submission to the Trust with mapping here 140227 Middle Head Development Submission – Bushfire Safety Concerns-1