Posted on August 14, 2015 by Carlo Zoppo

Recommendations for change to the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Scheme released by NSW Government

The NSW Government has released the long awaited report into the review of the 10/50 Vegetation Entitlement Scheme(Scheme). The report follows  extensive public consultation that resulted in over 3500 submissions being considered.

The report contains 30 recommendations that have been developed between the Department of Planning and the Environment (DPE), the Office of the Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the NSW Rural Fires Service.

Recommendations

The Recommendations remove some environmentally sensitive areas from the operation of the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement, as well modifying or providing some clarity to the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice(Code).

Importantly clearing under the Code will not be able to undertaken if it is inconsistent with  conditions of development consent, ‘enforcement instruments’ or Court orders.

According to the Rural Fires Service website, the NSW Government will implement all of the changes.  It is not clear at this stage when this will occur.

The key recommendations include:

Exclude environmentally sensitive areas

  1. Exclude from the operation of the 10/50 Vegetation Code of Practice (and the Scheme):
    1. land that is wholly or partly within;
      1. mapped World Heritage Areas and Ramsar wetlands;
      2. mapped areas of core koala habitat, SEPP 14 (Coastal Wetlands) and wetlands under SREP (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 20;
      3. mapped areas of SEPP 26 (Littoral Rainforest);
      4. mapped areas of high environmental significance identified as part of the bio-certification of the Sydney Region Growth Centres;
      5. 100 metres of the land identified in the NSW coastline map and mapped  estuaries;
      6. an Aboriginal Place as mapped by OEH;
      7. areas mapped as Local Heritage by the DPE;
      8. land that is dedicated or reserved or acquired for the purposes of dedication or reservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (including  national parks and nature reserves).
    2. land that contains:
      1. certain critically endangered ecological communities such as the Cumberland Plain Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion;
      2. critically endangered plants; and
      3. land mapped as critical habitats.
    3. all mangroves and salt marshes (and not just those on public land).
  2. Prevent the clearing of culturally modified trees by imposing requirements for the clearing of land that is wholly or partly within areas where culturally modified trees are shown in maps prepared by OEH.
  3. Impose a general requirement to exclude clearing of vegetation from within 10 metres of wetlands and streams that are 2 metres or more in width between the highest banks of streams.

Clarify scope and definitions

  1. Amend the definition of ‘habitable room’ so that the expression only applies to a building that has a lawful authority for the occupancy of those rooms;
  2. Amend the Rural Fires Act to clarify how the distance for a tree to be removed is determined.

Reduce conflict with planning laws and Court orders

  1. Amend clause 7.8 of the Code so that clearing allowed under the Code cannot be inconsistent with:
    1. covenants under s88B of the Conveyancing Act 1919 that have been used to secure ‘offsets’ on land; 
    2. enforcement instruments  and any Court orders that require the protection of vegetation;
    3. conditions of a development consent or  complying development certificates issued under the EPA Act.

 Improve information and tools for the public

  1. Develop practice notes to guide understanding of the relationship between the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement and the NSW Planning system;
  2. Adjust online tool to improve functionality;
  3. Update the Code and the Frequently Asked Questions to better provide information to the public.

A full copy of the report can be found here