Firefighting storage tanks in residential Port Hills area

DISASTER AREA: Selwyn rural fighters fighting a flare up at the Early Valley Rd fire in February. PHOTO: ANDREW KING

Selwyn’s District Plan will be reviewed in response to the Port Hills fires in February.

District council environmental services manager Tim Harris said it would look at a number of possible changes.

“In respect to pine plantations, the council has existing rules in its District Plan that include the requirement to have a fire plan, but we will certainly be reviewing those rules in the light of recent events and seeing if they are adequate or if they could be modified to address the risk of fire in plantations,” Mr Harris said.

The district council would also investigate whether there should be some firefighting capacity on a site in the residential area of the Port Hills. This might include the placement of a 30,000 litre water storage tank with the correct fittings for attaching to firefighting equipment.

Other District Plan changes that could be considered included new rules requiring suitable landscaping and defendable spaces around dwellings in high fire risk areas.

“One other thing that we will be looking at is to make sure that fire risk areas have suitable access to allow for fire trucks to get in there and fight any fire events,” Mr Harris said.

Christchurch City Council head of planning and strategic transport Richard Osborne said Christchurch’s District Plan, which was reviewed between 2014 and 2016, already had sufficient scope to address a future Port Hills fire.

Mr Osborne said updates to the District Plan following the review included a policy on how new plantation forestry was located and managed to avoid fire risk to neighbouring areas, and standards requiring rural and urban areas to have sufficient access to water supplies for fire fighting purposes.

“While the council will continue to review these and other provisions in light of the Port Hill fires, it does not currently have plans or the ability to modify the District Plan at this stage due to the extension of the relevant Order in Council until 2021,” Mr Osborne said.