The NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner will be given sweeping new powers to decide if vegetation should be cleared to protect lives or property at the risk from bushfires.
Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott also announced simplified rules for landowners, allowing them to clear up to 25 metres on their property from the boundary without seeking approvals.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers welcomed the additional powers to direct hazard reduction activities.
"These measures will empower community members to better protect their homes and property with as little bureaucracy as possible," he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The changes reflect recommendations from the NSW Bushfire Inquiry and the minister promised a code would be developed to deal with issues such as clearing in endangered and threatened species habitat.
"The NSW RFS will also be given stronger and clearer powers to audit and address bushfire risks, ensuring public lands are treated the same way as private landholders," Mr Elliott said.
A new statutory obligation would be created requiring all complaints about hazard reduction activities, including those relating to public authorities, to be forwarded to the NSW RFS Commissioner for assessment and action.
Mr Rogers will have the power to issue Bushfire Hazard Reduction Notices to public authorities in circumstances where vegetation should be cleared to protect lives or property.
Mr Elliott said if mitigation works weren't undertaken in a timely manner, the NSW RFS could undertake the job and send the land manager the bill.
"There will be stiff fines for people that leave their communities vulnerable to bushfires, with penalties set to be doubled for corporations and public landowners that fail to meet their obligations," he added.
"If public authorities fail to clear lands, the NSW RFS will step in."
Australian Associated Press