By JESSE GRAHAM
CHANGES to a controversial property law in the new year could see community concerns addressed and a common-sense approach taken with residential bushfire risk.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy, in a letter to Seymour MP Cindy McLeish, said that change to the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) could be coming in 2014.
In the letter, which was received on 10 December, Mr Guy stated that he recognised the BMO is “complex and needs to be simplified”, though a focus on community safety must be upheld.
“The Bushfire Management Overlay should support community resilience to bushfire while being fair on landowners,” he wrote.
“While maintaining a focus on community safety, I have instructed the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure to prepare advice for my consideration which provides more flexibility for landowners, councils and government agencies.”
Mr Guy said he expects to receive advice on the matter by the end of the year, with necessary changes to be made to the Victoria Planning Provisions as a result.
The letter was written in response to a statement in Parliament by Ms McLeish on Tuesday 29 October, where Ms McLeish addressed the stress and complexity of dealing with the BMO and asked Mr Guy to visit the Yarra Ranges and Murrindindi Shires to assess the BMO’s results.
The Mail has received a number of reports since the BMO’s induction in November 2011 from landowners unable to build on their properties due to the overlay, effectively rendering the land worthless.
Ms McLeish said that Deputy Speaker, Evelyn MP Christine Fyffe and Benalla MP Bill Sykes have also campaigned for change to the BMO.
Ms McLeish told the Mail last week that the BMO, which comes from the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, aims at making the community safe.
“But there has to be flexibility and common sense,” she said.
“You need a balance between community resilience and community protection.”
She said that Mr Guy has met with a number of constituents on the matter of the BMO and that all the members involved would work towards a “common-sense” approach to bushfire risk.