Fire risk at the proposed Ginninderry suburban development on the ACT/NSW northern border has been significantly underestimated, according to a new scientific report.
“Intense bushfires, ember storms and turbulent winds are real threats,” says Dr Jason Sharples of the UNSW, Canberra, author of the report.
“The current risk assessment standard does not account for recent scientific insights into extreme fire development,” says Dr Sharples. “Canberra people remember the fires of 2003, when extreme fire came out of the hills and into the suburbs.”
Dr Sharples specialises in the science of extreme fire behaviour.
“Regions to the northwest of the proposed rezoning are especially prone to extreme and dynamic fire propagation”, says Dr Sharples. “The risk of bushfire in the Ginninderry region has been seriously underestimated.”
Current methods of assessing bushfire risk assume that radiant heat is the main danger to populated areas and do not take into account the effects of very steep slopes that line up with the prevailing wind direction, such as those on the north western edge of the Ginninderry development
“The current standard assumes that radiant heat is the main cause of houses burning down,” says Dr Sharples. “Findings from the Canberra bushfires show that ember attack is a much more significant risk. The Ginninderry development will be particularly prone to ember attack in a bushfire.” says Dr Sharples.
A proposal to rezone E3 (Environmental Management) and Ru1 (Primary Production) land in the NSW section is, according to the latest Ginninderry newsletter, “imminent”.
“This bushfire report indicates that prior to the Yass Valley Council rezoning land for housing, a more thorough assessment of the threat from bushfires is needed” says Robyn Coghlan of the Ginniderra Falls Association and former President of the Belconnen Community Council. “Therefore, the rezoning should be delayed until we have the full picture”.
“Rezoning this environmental land to urban could not only potentially put people in harm’s way, it could also increase pressure to burn the surrounding forest for the protection of property, putting the fragile ecosystem and threatened species at risk” says Ms Coghlan
This latest revelation about elevated fire risk was communicated to the developer in a knowledge sharing session organised by the Frank Fenner Foundation on 29 March this year.
More information, and copies of the full Report from:
Associate Professor Jason Sharples, 0400 586 074
and< Ginninderra Falls Association primary contact: Robyn Coghlan 0435 534 998
Secondary contact: Dr Douglas Finlayson, Ginninderra Falls Association [email]
[see report online]