Land Use Planning – Safety Buffers
Land Use Compatibility
There are many aspects to consider when managing risks from hazardous facilities. In Victoria, there are stringent requirements for the safe design and operation of facilities identified as “Major Hazard Facilities”. WorkSafe Victoria oversees the compliance of these facilities to regulations to ensure that the risks are reduced “so far as is reasonably practicable”. However, as more people live and work close to these and other industrial facilities, the overall risk associated with a facility can increase due to land use intensification and inappropriate development in the surrounding areas. The right land use planning framework must be in place to manage the risk to the community and allow industries to continue to operate.
Managing the interface between hazardous industries and other land uses has been a planning issue that is often complex and has resulted in inconsistent decision making. In recognition of this, the Victorian Government established the Major Hazard Facilities Advisory Committee to advise on how to best manage land use planning around these types of facilities across the state. An independent Inquiry of the Environment Protection Authority also recommended developing strengthened land use planning mechanisms that establish and maintain buffers. The Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 Five-Year Implementation Plan requires a review and update of guidelines for separation distances for sensitive uses.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Buffer Area Overlay (BAO) proposal seeks to address this longstanding issue. The BAO is a proposed planning overlay that could be used to prevent incompatible use and development within the buffer areas of industries and other land uses with potential off-site impacts. This overlay will formalise land use buffers on the basis of safety – potentially helping to close a major gap in planning around hazardous facilities. The overlay would need to be based on evidence of the potential offsite impacts to health and safety.
The DELWP has undertaken consultation on the overlay proposal and is currently considering the submissions received. Finalisation of the BAO is expected soon. Once implemented, operators of hazardous facilities will be able to discuss an application for a BAO with council and begin the process to apply a safety overlay outside their facility.
For more information or to discuss how R4Risk can assist your organisation in preparing the necessary assessment to submit with a BAO application, please email [email protected].
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