Building in bushfire prone land

Bush Fire Prone Land Maps are certified by the NSW Rural Fire Service.  On 7 August 2020, the Bush Fire Prone Land Map was updated, these include some changes to bush fire prone land in the Shellharbour Local Government Area where bushfire risk may need to be assessed as part of the planning and building applications. 

Development on land prone to bushfire requires a bushfire risk assessment, and construction may need to meet higher standards to protect people and their property should development occur within these areas.

You can view Shellharbour LGA bush fire prone maps by using our online mapping tool or by visiting the RFS website.

What is a Bush Fire Prone Land Map?

Bush Fire Prone Land Maps are prepared by local Councils and certified by the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS). These maps identify areas of potential risk and are in place to help prepare you and your home.

Councils are legislatively required by the Environmental Planning &Assessment Act 1979 to record a bush fire prone map in consultation with the RFS.

Why are there changes?

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) as part of its fire management strategies have strengthened the rules around how and where you can build your home so that you can still enjoy the landscape but keep your home safe.

The RFS have updated bush fire prone area categories to include grasslands (see definition of grasslands below). Council is required by legislation to update the Bush Fire Prone Land Map to ensure it is in-line with the Planning for Bush Fire Protection guidelines.

Why have grasslands been reclassified?

Grass fires are unpredictable, spread quickly and can move three times faster than a bush fire.

Standards Australia cover bush fire safety requirements for building in bush fire prone areas, including grasslands, in the Construction of Buildings in Bush Fire Prone Areas (Australian Standard 3959-2009).

The RFS Planning for Bush Fire Protection Guidelines are now being brought into line with this Standard. More information about this is available at

What Grasslands are included?

Unmanaged Grasslands: these are defined as grassed areas capable of sustaining a fire. Under the Australian Standard this is identified as low open shrub land, hummock grassland, closed tussock grassland, tussock grassland, open tussock, sparse open tussock, dense sown pasture, sown pasture, open herb field, and sparse open herb field.

Managed Grasslands: these include grass, whether exotic or native, which is regularly maintained at or below 10cm in height (including maintained lawns, golf courses, maintained public reserves, parklands, nature strips and commercial nurseries).

What will change?

The following map is indicative of the proposed changes. Pink indicates land that has been added under these legislative changes. Green indicates land that was previously affected but is no longer mapped as fire prone.

For further details on bush fire prone land use the link below to access Council’s on-line mapping: Council’s online mapping.

Newly affected land (pink) under the legislative changes to include grasslands:

How can I find out if my property is reclassified?

The updated Bush Fire Prone Land Map has been certified on 7 August 2020. The map is effective immediately and is available on Council’s mapping system.

How can I find out if my property is reclassified?

Once the map has been gazetted you will be able to access it via Council’s on line mapping system found at, or go to the RFS online mapping tool.

Does this affect my insurance?

Insurance companies each have their own individual ways in which they calculate risk and determine insurance policy premiums. Many insurance companies will offer house and contents insurance, with each individual insurance company determining their own policy and conditions. You will need to contact your own insurer to find out more. If your insurance company is not helpful, you can go to the Insurance Council of Australia.

Will this affect my application to build?

If your property has been identified on the Bush Fire Prone Land Map you will be required to prepare a Bush Fire Assessment Report to be lodged with a Development Application. You may also need to check the requirements under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 for all non-Development Application type proposals. For more details on developing in bush fire-prone areas, visit

If you are building a single dwelling you can use the Single Dwellings Applications Kit to carry out your own Bush Fire Assessment Report. For other types of development, you can obtain a certificate from a qualified consultant.

More information

For information relating to bush fire prone land and the requirements for future Development Applications please contact Councils Senior Customer Service Team on 4221 6111.

Last updated : Wed 13 Sep 2023