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Planning for bushfire prone areas

Learn the critical essentials for designing, planning and building in bushfire prone areas with the experts at UTS.

About this course

Severe and ongoing bushfires in Australia have highlighted the importance of planned and controlled development in bushfire prone areas. To maximise safety, the NSW Government has amended legislation and published new guidelines, Planning for Bushfire Protection. This subject is designed to provide planning and development professionals, particularly those working in the local government arena, with the necessary skills and understanding to apply the relevant requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Rural Fires Act 1997 and AS 3333959 (Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas).

Course structure

You will cover legislation, planning and design principles, as well as aspects of bushfire behaviour and management in detail.

Learn about statutory requirements and protection measures, as well as analysing and problem-solving in relation to bushfire protection measures and acceptable solutions. Sessions are designed to build knowledge, provoke discussions and encourage critical thinking.

The course has four intensive workshop days on campus, and one practical field trip. From lectures through to face-to-face classes and the excursion, you will experience interactive presentations, case studies, scenarios and facilitated workshops.

Topics covered include:

  • Bushfire behaviour
  • A multi-faceted approach to bushfire protection.
  • Provisions of the Environment and Planning and Assessment Act and Rural Fires Act
  • 'Planning for Bushfire Protection' manual.
  • Biodiversity considerations
  • Undertaking bushfire assessments: Application of Seniors Living SEPP
  • Using covenants
  • Legal issues and cases
  • Requirements of AS 3959 (Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas)
  • Designing safe and attractive buildings in bushfire prone areas
  • The need for effective policy implementation, and local government management frameworks 


Learning outcomes

  • Understand bushfire behaviour and approaches to protection of property and human life
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the legislative frameworks and contexts
  • Apply an understanding of the current status of planning for bushfire-prone areas in NSW
  • Identify and assess issues in bushfire protection and regulation
  • Conduct bushfire assessments
  • Consider issues related to biodiversity
  • Identify key elements in case studies and best practice


COVID-19 Information

UTS is undertaking a number of social distancing initiatives, as informed by NSW Health advice, to help reduce social interactions in support of the government’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. As part of this response, some of our short courses may be postponed to a later date.

Please note however, bookings are open for all courses offered by the Institute for Public Policy and Governance (IPPG). If a course needs to be postponed, participants will have the chance to transfer to a later date, a new course or request a full refund. IPPG will also be offering a range of online or blended learning options facilitated via zoom video conferencing. If you have any questions in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact our team at

Who is this course for?

Planning and development professionals, particularly those in local government, requiring the necessary skills and understanding to apply the relevant requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Rural Fires Act 1997 and AS 3333959 (Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas).



17 August




5 days

Meet the Expert

Grahame Douglas

Grahame Douglas
Senior Lecturer at Western Sydney University

Grahame began his interest is bushfire matters in the late 1980’s and was appointed to represent environmental interests on the then Bush Fire Council and in 1993 was appointed to the Bush Fire Coordinating Committee.

In 1996, Grahame accepted a position as Environment Officer within the then Department of Bush Fire Services. Grahame has worked with the NSW Rural Fire Service in the area of community safety for 15 years and was responsible for developing the legislative provisions and policy relating to bush fire risk management planning, development control for bushfire prone areas, environmental impact of hazard reduction activities and participated in a number of sub-committees working on the review of AS3959 Construction in Bushfire Prone Areas.


He also authored the NSW document planning for Bushfire protection. He was appointed to the University of Western Sydney on a conjoint appointment for 5 years in the Graduate Diploma in Bush Fire Design program whilst retaining a role with the RFS. He is now employed under a casual contract while completing his PhD in bushfire-related areas, having recently retired from the RFS.

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Stuart Little

Stuart Little

Dr Stuart Little is an environmental professional specialising in peri-urban environments, and holds background science degrees in both Earth Sciences and Biology (fire ecology). He formerly worked as a Senior Environmental Planner with the NSW Department of Planning (now Department of Planning and Environment), specialising in natural resources policy including threatened species, bushfire protection, coastal wetlands, urban bushland management and forestry environmental impact assessment. He is currently employed as a Catchment Program Coordinator with WaterNSW. His presentation today draws from his recently completed PhD thesis with the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts at the University of Wollongong, entitled: “Exploring the Tensions between Bushfire Protection and Biodiversity Conservation in the New South Wales Planning System”.

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Colin Wood

Colin Wood
Building & Compliance

Colin is the Section Manager – Building & Compliance with Shoalhaven City Council.  He is an Environmental Health and Building Surveyor and has 39 years’ experience with Local Government and Private Practice.  He is the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors national representative on AS3959 and he has held that position since 1995.  Colin is also the chair of the Construction Sub-committee to AS3959.

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Book a session

Mon 17 Aug 2020 -
Fri 21 Aug 2020
Expert: Grahame Douglas, Stuart Little, Colin Wood
  • 17-21 August 2020, 9am-5pm | UTS City Campus
  • On-campus
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