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peri-urban development + bushfires « Previous | |Next »
February 17, 2009

Michael Buxton, an associate professor environment and planning at RMIT, says in The Australian that governments have been in denial over the issue of increased fire risk and higher populations is emerging on the periphery of many Australian cities and regional centres.

NewsbushfireSmithm.jpg M Smith

The peri-urban regions are at the cross- roads of significant change. In many of many of these "peri-urban" municipalities increasing numbers of Australians are building houses on small rural lots in some of the most fire-prone land in the world. Many of these new houses cannot be defended against fire. Can we have sustainable peri-urban landscapes in the regions of our capital cities in the medium to long term, given that the peri-urbanisation process will continue?

Buxton says:

Doing nothing is no longer an option. Conditions will worsen. Change will happen. We must anticipate it, prevent its worst impacts by facing hard decisions. This needs far-sighted planning, not people who visit the costs of their denial on to others....The most important task for the Government is to buy out people from fire-prone areas that cannot be defended and prevent further people from moving into those areas. Bushfires will always be with us. But we can dramatically reduce the number of fatalities by not allowing people to build their homes in harm's way.

This implies a comprehensive re-assessment of the way we Australians relate with one another, with our unique biophysical heritage and the ecological communities we are a part of. A new land ethic, if you like, with good urban planning to shape market forces and peri-urban development.

Currently existing statutory planning attempts to prevent this continued fragmentation will not be sufficient to address future peri-urbanisation resulting from the sale and split up of multi-titled farms comprised of a number of small lots. Research shows that we have spatial fragmentation and land use intensification and an assemblage of temporary mixes of urban and rural activities and functions.

This peri-urban region is often characterised by conflicting values and social disharmony and is a situation of constant change that is usually irreversible.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:33 AM | | Comments (3)


In Victor Harbor, one of Adelaide's peri-urban areas, there are two ways to look at this development. From a rural perspective urban expansion is regarded primarily as a threat. The urban perspective acknowledges the needs of the city and regards the adjacent rural region as a means to satisfy urban needs by providing land and resources.

Living on the NSW North Coast which for decades has been a battleground between competing lifestyle values, commercial/industry interests and developemnt pressure, I can say that one of the chief stumbling blocks to effectively reassessing peri-urban development is going to be the attitude of state and local governments.
The former often rely heavily on political donations from big development corporations and the latter are frequently hungry for the increased rate revenue which development represents.
Perhaps it's time for a national approach to risk management and zoning regulations.

Strange isn't it that now this is the "New Terrorism"

Fire; The new tool for every disgruntled fool to use at his discretion.

Stop the world I wanna get off.