Posted on December 2, 2014 by

More changes to 10/50 vegetation clearing rules

Further changes have been announced to the controversial 10/50 vegetation clearing rules amid concern that the rules have been abused for other purposes.

The following rules now apply:

  • The 10/50 entitlement area for land that is classified as Category 1 Bush Fire Prone Land has been reduced to 100 metres;
  • The 10/50 entitlement area for land that is classified as Category 2 Bush Fire Prone Land has been reduced to 30 metres.

In setting out the changes, the Rural Fire Services (RFS) website states that:

‘The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), in partnership with the Department of Planning and Environment, has commenced a formal review of the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme. It is clear from some submissions and feedback that while the scheme is designed to reduce bush fire risk, there has been some abuse of the fuel reduction provisions for other purposes.’

As readers will be aware, this is not the first time that changes have been made restricting the operation of the rules since they came into effect on 1 August 2014.

On 30 September 2014, the RFS announced that the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area for Category 2 Bush Fire Prone Land would be reduced from 350 metres to 150 metres, and that Council would have the ability to reclassify smaller parcels of vegetation from Category 1 to Category 2.

The RFS also brought forward a review of the rules. Submissions for the review closed on 14 November 2014, and the review remains ongoing.

In our original post, we commented that the rules would present councils ‘with an enforcement challenge both in terms of how it communicates the changes to the community (and any limitations and conditions) and how it investigates opportunistic clearing and non-compliance with the provisions’.

The numerous changes to the rules which have occurred in the short time since they came into force are unlikely to decrease those challenges.