There are real tensions in the Draft Anglesea Futures Plan and DELWP’s Q&A document (15/2/2018). DELWP claims that Area 3 is unsuitable for housing due to fire risk for example, but asserts that it is suitable for commercial construction. DELWP has also recently contended that Area 10 needs to be turned into “affordable” housing to manage fire risk.
But do DELWP’s claims stack up? Let’s dig a bit deeper into Area 10 as an example by unpacking the facts.
A few questions immediately arise:
Has DELWP sought comment or input from the local CFA and/or local fire experts to support their justification for increasing the urban footprint of Anglesea to manage fire risk?
Can DELWP back up its contention that Area 10 needs to have housing constructed on it to manage fire risk with reasoned analysis and evidence?
If houses in Area 10 are needed to help protect the town from the threat of bushfire, what then protects those houses?
Let's suppose that new housing in Area 10 is designed to provide a buffer to greater Anglesea as DELWP suggests. This would require the houses to have a BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) assessment and the materials to build the houses must conform to Australian Standard AS3639-2009 to be approved by the Shire.
A BAL-FZ rated house as an example, must be built using materials and systems of construction which protect against a direct flame or ember attack without incinerating for a period of time. A company called Parhammer make the only domestic windows that are rated to BAL-FZ. A phone call to Parhammer revealed that their windows cost $3,000 per square meter. How then, are any houses in Area 10 going to be 'affordable'?!
All significant fires that have impacted Anglesea in the past have come from the western quadrant and not the east, where the Area 10 housing estate is proposed.
Fire risk is managed around the township by having an asset protection zone between houses and the bush. The bush behind the houses at the top of Harvey Street is a good example. The trees are thinned out for a distance of about 70 metres from the houses and that area is slashed once or twice annually and burned periodically.
Anglesea is surrounded by bush already and Area 10 was originally annexed from the bush for Alcoa to purchase it.
The suggestion that Area 10 should be designated as residential housing, to provide affordable housing, to act as a fire buffer to Anglesea, seems to raise more questions than it answers.
I don't think it stacks up.