How Do We Plan for Fires and Floods in Our Towns?

Drone shot of flooding of a rural town in Victoria, Australia.

How Do We Plan for Fires and Floods?

With the challenges Australian towns and cities face in relation to the impacts of urban and natural hazards, the need for effective and innovative town planning and urban development across Australia has never been stronger. Town planners now not only plan for population growth, economic shifts and the needs of an increasingly urban populace, they must also plan for natural hazards like bushfires and flooding. And with the highest rates of building growth and development concentrated on the fringes of towns and cities, more Australians are affected by and at risk of bushfires and natural disasters than ever before.

Planning For Bushfires

Despite the recent bushfire crisis, Australia has a strong history of planning for bushfires after a major crisis has occurred, like the 2001 Christmas fires in Sydney which burnt more than 750,000 hectares and destroyed 109 homes. After this catastrophic event, a Joint Parliamentary Inquiry was established with the result that there are now more restrictions for building developments on land that has been identified as bushfire prone.

Developers and town planners must now assess and plan to mitigate the risks that bushfires present to people and property when urban development is proposed in risk areas. Spatial planning has proven effective and is widely considered one of the best means of risk reduction in bushfire prone areas. Moreover, it’s also an effective means of facilitating and promoting sustainable urban and rural development.

Planning For Floods

Urban planning plays a vitally important role in preparing Australian towns and cities for floods and extreme weather and is increasingly important as decisions must now also be made about how best to prepare for potentially worse weather conditions than we’re currently experiencing due to global climate change.

A major reason for flooding in cities is that the rainwater has nowhere to drain because most of the surface is covered by buildings, bitumen and concrete. The solutions that town planners may implement to manage this issue include increasing minimum flood construction levels, increasing green spaces to allow heavy rainwater to drain naturally, and creating dry creeks and improving drain networks to divert water away from buildings.

Responding To A Disaster

While long-term and effective development and planning are vital to minimising the risks that natural disasters like bushfires and floods present to people and property, short-term solutions, like providing emergency responders with fast access to affected areas, must also be addressed.

Evacuations during extreme events like bushfires and floods are complicated, and emergency crews have to make critical decisions to save lives, for example, deciding which areas to evacuate before others, but effective plans have been put in place and are constantly assessed and revised if necessary to ensure the highest levels of preparedness. Moreover, with regards to roads and evacuation routes during emergencies, there are also strong rules in place that ensure motorists must give way to first responders and that fire departments must be given access to property to do what they do best.

At Arnold Development Consultants, our town and strategic planning experience makes us the right choice for your project. To speak with an ADC consultant about your requirements and the solutions we provide, please contact your local Arnolds regional office.