Rural matter: Wildfire risk


District Plan Review consultation now closed.

Initial public consultation on key draft changes to the current Selwyn District Plan closed on Monday 8 October 2018. Thank you to everyone who let us know what they thought of the review so far.

What’s next?

Following this initial public consultation on the District Plan Review, the Council will consider all feedback and start developing detailed provisions for the Proposed District Plan. Please note that a summary report on the initial public consultation will be made available on Your Say Selwyn website at www.selwyn.govt.nz/districtplanreview.

It’s expected the Proposed District Plan will be

District Plan Review consultation now closed.

Initial public consultation on key draft changes to the current Selwyn District Plan closed on Monday 8 October 2018. Thank you to everyone who let us know what they thought of the review so far.

What’s next?

Following this initial public consultation on the District Plan Review, the Council will consider all feedback and start developing detailed provisions for the Proposed District Plan. Please note that a summary report on the initial public consultation will be made available on Your Say Selwyn website at www.selwyn.govt.nz/districtplanreview.

It’s expected the Proposed District Plan will be notified in early 2020 for formal public consultation. The longer timeframe is due to the local government elections at the end of 2019 and ensuring the newly elected Council endorses the Proposed District Plan before it gets notified.


We want to know what you think about the draft changes to wildfire risk related rules and policies in the current District Plan. These draft changes have been endorsed by the Selwyn District Council for further development as part of its District Plan Review.

How can I have a say?

To give us your feedback on the draft changes , you can:

There will be many consultation opportunities for feedback at different stages of the District Plan Review and this is the first such opportunity. It’s expected that the new District Plan will be notified in early 2020 and be fully in place, subject to any Environment Court appeals, in March 2022.

Background

Selwyn is an area with a significant fire risk, with wildfires occurring most years. Wildfire is considered to be a fire which occurs in a rural area where typically there is a buildup of easily combustible vegetation. The most common causes of a wildfire are natural sources such as lightning, accidental man-made ignition such as a cigarette butt, sparking from the use of machinery or from an out of control rubbish fire, or it may start as a result of arson. A fire lit for the purpose of agricultural crop burn-off would not be considered a wildfire unless the fire spread beyond the intended area.

While the Port Hills, Malvern Hills and the High Country would traditionally have a higher wildfire risk due to their topography and vegetation densities, the sparseness of population means fire is less likely to be triggered. On the other hand, the plains area and in particular the Inner Plains area, which consists of many lifestyle blocks, is at a high risk of wildfire. This is due to vegetation densities as a result of amenity plantings, woodlots and shelterbelts, and the higher population densities, which increase the likelihood of a fire being triggered and the potential consequences of a wildfire.

The Port Hills fire in early 2017 triggered the development of the Council’s Port Hills Fire Recovery Plan 2017. This recovery plan outlines actions that the Council needs to complete to enable Selwyn communities to recover from the Port Hills fire and do all it can to prevent such a fire from happening again. One of the actions in the Recovery Plan is to consider, through the District Plan Review, a set of rules that specifically address wildfire hazard in high risk areas.

Wildfire risk management in the current Selwyn District Plan

The current District Plan doesn’t contain any specific rules for how wildfire risk in the Rural Zone should be managed to ensure the fire risk to people and property is appropriately reduced.

For example, under the current plan there’s no requirement to have a defensible space around a property that has been landscaped and maintained in a way that reduces fire danger to the property and neighbouring properties. Having a defensible space improves the chances of people and property surviving a wildfire and is also key to the protection of firefighters defending the property.

Also under the current plan, there have been instances where consent conditions have actually increased the wildfire risk on a property. For example, for a new property development located in an outstanding landscape where plantings have been required to mitigate adverse visual effects.




  • Key draft changes for the future District Plan

    over 1 year ago
    Sdc dp infographics wildfire 2

    The Council’s District Plan Committee has endorsed the following draft changes for further development, which we’re now consulting on:

    • When assessing a land use consent for a building, the Council will also have the discretion to assess the wildfire risk by examining the layout of the landscaping and the plants used (option 2H in the preferred option report).
    • Development of setbacks for:
    1. new or replanted vegetation such as shelter belts and certain plantations, such as vineyards, woodlots and orchards which are of a certain size. Plantation forestry at least one hectare in size and...

    The Council’s District Plan Committee has endorsed the following draft changes for further development, which we’re now consulting on:

    • When assessing a land use consent for a building, the Council will also have the discretion to assess the wildfire risk by examining the layout of the landscaping and the plants used (option 2H in the preferred option report).
    • Development of setbacks for:
    1. new or replanted vegetation such as shelter belts and certain plantations, such as vineyards, woodlots and orchards which are of a certain size. Plantation forestry at least one hectare in size and which is harvested commercially is covered by the National Environmental Standards – Plantation Forestry.
    2. new principal buildings. This can be a dwelling as well as other buildings such as a church, school, or business. It excludes accessory buildings such as carports, farm buildings, garages, sheds, or greenhouses.

    Draft setback for new or replanted vegetation
    When talking about new or replanted vegetation that we’re considering introducing setbacks for, we mean vegetation over a certain size. However we’re still working through what the minimum area of vegetation should be if the wildfire setbacks are applied. Typical examples of vegetation for which setbacks are being considered include shelter belts, vineyards, woodlots, and orchards. For such vegetation we’re considering introducing a setback of 30 metres from neighbouring principal buildings. There would be no restriction on the placement of vegetation on a person’s own property in relation to their own principal building (option 2B and 2F in the preferred option report).

    Draft setback for new principal buildings
    All new principal buildings would be set back 30 metres from existing vegetation on the neighbouring property, such as shelter belts, vineyards, woodlots and orchards (option 2A in the preferred option report). This setback would be consistent with the Fire and Emergency New Zealand guidance.

    Setbacks for plantation forestry as a result of new National Environmental Standards
    With the introduction of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) on 1 May 2018, restrictions on the location of new plantation forestry in relation to neighbouring dwellings have come into effect. This national regulation is mandatory and not open for consultation. The new standards require a new plantation forestry more than one hectare in size and planted for commercial harvesting to be set back by 40 metres from a neighbouring dwelling:

    The Resource Management Act requires district plans to not be inconsistent or in conflict with a National Environmental Standard. As such the Proposed District Plan is required to restrict the location of new dwellings in relation to neighbouring plantation forestry (more than one hectare in size and planted for commercial harvesting).

    The setback for a new dwelling from an existing plantation forestry as defined by NES-PF is 40 metres:

    The setback for other new principal buildings from an existing plantation forestry as defined by NES-PF is 30 metres:



  • Summary of key issues with the current District Plan

    over 1 year ago

    As a result of the review of current policies and rules specific to wildfire risk, we’ve identified the following issues with the current District Plan:

    • There are no provisions within the current District Plan addressing wildfire risk management, and no ability to consider it as a matter of control or discretion when assessing a resource consent.
    • As a result of having no wildfire provisions, some resource consents have inadvertently increased the fire risk on properties through landscaping conditions.
    • Conflict when balancing the need to allow for defensible space to be created, and the need to address any adverse effects on...

    As a result of the review of current policies and rules specific to wildfire risk, we’ve identified the following issues with the current District Plan:

    • There are no provisions within the current District Plan addressing wildfire risk management, and no ability to consider it as a matter of control or discretion when assessing a resource consent.
    • As a result of having no wildfire provisions, some resource consents have inadvertently increased the fire risk on properties through landscaping conditions.
    • Conflict when balancing the need to allow for defensible space to be created, and the need to address any adverse effects on the look and feel of the area through vegetation screening.