Posted on December 2, 2014 by

New self-assessable codes allowing clearing of native vegetation

The Minister for the Environment, Rob Stokes, has made three orders under the Native Vegetation Regulation 2013 which establish three “self-assessable codes” permitting landholders to carry out  certain clearing and thinning of native vegetation species without the need to apply for development consent, or to seek approval for a property vegetation plan under Part 4 of the Native Vegetation Act 2003.

The clearing or thinning of native species carried out in accordance with the self-assessable codes are classified as a ‘routine agricultural management activity’ for the purposes of Division 3 of Part 3 of the Native Vegetation Act 2003.

The Minister’s media release states that the release of the self-assessable codes places trust in landholders to manage their land sustainably while protecting the environment.

Self-assessable codes

The three self-assessable codes are as follows:

  • Clearing of Invasive Native Species – this code applies to all land in NSW to which the Native Vegetation Act applies and permits the clearing of listed invasive native scrub species that are regenerating densely or are invading plant communities, causing decline in the structure or composition of the vegetation community. The types of clearing made permissible under the code depend on the characteristics of the site sought to be cleared.
  • Thinning of native vegetation – this code facilitates the clearing of native trees and woody shrubs in defined areas of thickened native vegetation. Only certain vegetation formations are listed as being suitable for thinning, and a distinction is drawn between an area of land designated as the ‘coastal thinning zone’ and the remaining areas of NSW. The code does not permit the thinning of species listed as a threatened species or vegetation  that is a part of a threatened ecological community under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
  • Clearing of Paddock Trees in a Cultivation Area – this code permits the clearing of certain paddock trees in a cultivation area, defined as an area that is cropped, ploughed or fallow at the time of notification. The clearing of paddock trees is subject to conditions  and must be balanced by the establishment of a “set aside area”  located on the same landholding as the cultivation area, on which trees must be planted to offset the clearing of paddock trees at the ratios set out in the code, using the same or similar species.

Each of the self-assessable codes makes provision for a streamlined Property Vegetation Plan assessment process to cater for more complex clearing proposals that are not permitted under those codes for various reasons.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has developed a series of online tools designed to assist landholders in determining whether clearing or thinning can be carried out on their land pursuant to the new self-assessment codes.

The Minister’s media release discussing the self-assessable codes, and the copies of the codes themselves are available from the OEH’s website accessible here.