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NSW seeks to drive natural hazard planning

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NSW has called for feedback on draft guidelines that aim to drive greater consideration of natural hazards in local council and state authority strategic planning.

“In the last few years, we’ve experienced some of the worst drought, bushfires and flooding on record so it’s important we continually learn and adapt how we plan for these hazards,” Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said.

“This draft guide supports the findings of the Bushfire Royal Commission that we need to better address legacy risk in our communities by making sure that strategic land use planning builds resilience to known hazards.”

The document says NSW was affected by 198 natural disasters between 2009 and 2019 and more than 550 lives were lost between 1970 and 2015. The total economic cost of natural disasters in the state is estimated at $3.6 billion a year.

The eight guiding principles call for authorities to consider risks early, protect vulnerable people and assets, adopt an all-hazards approach and involve the community.

Authorities should plan for emergency responses and evacuation, be information driven, plan to rebuild for the future, not the present and understand the relationship between natural processes and natural hazards.

“This guideline is not intended to be a technical document and does not replicate or replace the existing legislation, statutory functions and policies that deal with natural hazards or emergency management,” it says.

“This document is a tool with which strategic planning for the most relevant natural hazards can be looked at in a more integrated, multi-disciplinary way.”

Consultation on the document is open until June 8. More details are available here.