The Victorian Government has announced the review of Native vegetation clearing regulations is complete.
â€‹Implementation of the changes includes amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) along with a program of other actions. The Government is now seeking comment on the proposed changes before the amendments to the VPP are adopted.â€‹
The proposed changes include:
- Changes to the location categories and a reduction in the extent thresholds from one hectare to 0.5 hectares, which is used to determine one of three possible Assessment Pathways (i.e. Basic, Intermediate or Detailed).
- A greater emphasis on the avoidance of native vegetation removal (primarily for Intermediate and Detailed Assessment Pathway applications), including how the three step approach of ‘avoid’, ‘minimise’ and ‘offset’ has been undertaken. An applicant is not required to avoid or minimise impacts from the removal of native vegetation on biodiversity values in the Basic Assessment Pathway.
- Consistent with the current Biodiversity Assessment Guidelines, Basic and Intermediate Assessment Pathway applications do not require a site assessment, while Detailed Assessment Pathway applications must include a site assessment report.
- Updated maps to consider additional values of native vegetation, such as endangered Ecological Vegetation Classes and large trees (a large tree can either be a scattered large tree or a large tree contained in a patch).
- The inclusion of mapped wetlands which are treated as a patch of remnant native vegetation, and if they are proposed to be impacted must be offset.
- The ability for site assessed information to have a greater role in decision making.
- Offsets must protect large trees when they are permitted to be removed (i.e. the offset secured must include the protection of at least one large tree for every large to be removed).
- Additions and changes to the exemptions under Clause 52.16 and 52.17 Table of Exemptions (e.g. an added exemption for utility installations and another exemption for ’conservation work’).
- Increased commitment to monitoring and reporting on native vegetation losses and offsets.
According to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the amended regulations are designed to support better consideration of biodiversity elements in decision making and fairer offset obligations.
Community feedback is being sought, particularly from those likely to be affected by the revisions or who are responsible for implementing the proposed changes. It is important that any issues related to implementation are identified before amendments to the VPP are adopted.
The changes are due to take effect later in 2017 upon final approval by the Minister for Planning.
How to make a submission:
To make a submission go to the Engage Victoria website
Consultations close 5pm 5 February 2017.
How to learn more about the changes:
View the Summary of changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions - Review of native vegetation clearing regulations.
See the draft Native vegetation clearing - assessment guidelines.
Visit the DELWP website to learn more about the review process and community feedback.
To discuss the changes:
Ecology and Heritage Partners have been actively involved in the review process over the last 12 months and have provided constructive input into the proposed changes.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss the possible implications of the proposed changes to your projects, please contact our natural heritage team on 1300 839 325.