Victoria

Updated native vegetation removal rules released by Victorian Government

THE Victorian Government last week said it is delivering on an election commitment to improve native vegetation removal regulations, with the release of updated 'Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation' and associated amendments to all Victorian planning schemes.

According to the government, extensive stakeholder and community consultation was integral to the review of the native vegetation removal regulations, including a stakeholder reference group that provided advice on the issues and improvements considered in the review.

The updated rules seek to increase protection for native vegetation, simplify and enhance the operation of the regulations, and increase transparency. The changes include:

  • Better accounting for the environmental value of large trees, endangered vegetation types and sensitive wetlands and coastal areas;
  • Making the system fairer by allowing some site based information to supplement mapped information, and ensuring the information used in the regulations better accounts for vegetation on the ground;
  • Improving transparency about native vegetation removal and offsets, and ensuring the rules are being complied with; and
  • Additional offsetting options, including using scattered trees as offsets and being able to bank offsets to use in the future. These changes acknowledge landowners' efforts in managing native vegetation on their own properties.

The updates have been incorporated into all Victorian planning schemes via Amendment VC138, which was gazetted on 12 December. The amendment includes the following changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions:

Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation

Clause 12 (Biodiversity):

Revision of state planning policy implementing the policy, objectives and strategies found in the recently released Protecting Victoria's Environment – Biodiversity 2037.

Referencing a new incorporated document, Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, 2017).

Clauses 42.01 (Environmental Significance Overlay), 42.02 (Vegetation Protection Overlay), 42.03 (Significant Landscape Overlay), 44.01 (Erosion Management Overlay), 44.02 (Salinity Management Overlay), 52.16 (Native vegetation precinct plans) and 52.17 (Native vegetation):

Implementing biodiversity policy changes resulting of the native vegetation review.

Modifying application requirements, decisions guidelines and introducing transitional arrangements.

Modifying exemptions from the requirement to obtain a planning permit to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation.

Referencing a new incorporated document, Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, 2017).

Deletion of the Utility installation code of practice from the schedules to Clause 52.17 within affected schemes.

Clause 66.02-2 (Native vegetation – referral and notice provisions):

Amends the type of applications referred to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to align with policy changes, and includes reference to the new incorporated document Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, 2017).

Clause 81.01 (Table of incorporated documents in this scheme):

Replaces Permitted clearing of native vegetation – Biodiversity assessment guidelines (Department of Environment and Primary Industries, 2013) with the new Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, 2017).

Deletion of the Utility installation code of practice from the affected schemes.

The amendment also updates outdated references to previous departments to reflect the department's new name, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in relevant clauses.

More information is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website at <https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/native-vegetation/native-vegetation>.

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