Are you affected by the moratorium on clearing high value regrowth?

26 May 2009 Topics: Property and planning law, Planning and environment

The Bligh Government, in line with its election promise, recently introduced The Vegetation Management (Regrowth Clearing Moratorium) Act 2009 (the Act), which places a moratorium on the clearing of high value vegetation.

The moratorium is due to end on 7 July 2009 however, there is provision for it to be extended to allow for further consultation with stakeholders.

The moratorium will prevent owners of affected leasehold and freehold agriculture and grazing land from clearing certain vegetation unless an approval has been obtained from the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM). The moratorium will apply generally to areas within 50 metres of an identified watercourse in the priority wet tropics of the Burdekin and Mackay/Whitsunday Reef catchment areas as well as rural areas containing endangered regrowth vegetation.

To identify if your land is affected, maps can be viewed at website www.derm.qld.gov.au. If your land is not included on the maps, then clearing of high value regrowth will require an application to DERM. There is no official form for the application. Therefore it is recommended that a letter is submitted which sets out the properties where the clearing will occur, referenced by a map and possibly an aerial photograph together with an explanation as to purpose for the clearing.

The application will need to be for a relevant purpose. Some of the main purposes identified are:

  • establishing a necessary fence, fire break, road or vehicular track, or for constructing necessary built infrastructure if there is no suitable alternative site for the fence, firebreak, road, truck or infrastructure
  • controlling non-native plants or declared pests
  • ensuring public safety
  • fodder harvesting
  • thinning.

A more comprehensive list can be viewed at the DERM website.

It will also be necessary for the application to address how the clearing will minimise impacts on key environmental values for the area. For example, is the area that is subject of the proposed clearing:

  • near a creek or watercourse
  • in or near a wetland
  • on steep slopes or unstable soil
  • in saline or waterlogged areas
  • where acid sulphate soils may be present (relevant in coastal areas).

If you have lodged a Property Map of Assessable Vegetation application or a development application prior to 26 March 2009 and that application contains all relevant information, the application will be assessed in the usual way. Applications lodged on or after 26 March 2009 that have not been determined as at 8 April 2009 (the commencement date of the Act), will be subject to the provisions of the moratorium.

PS. Despite the official consultation period on the moratorium ending on 15th of May, we understand the DERM will still accept consultation submissions. The DERM does not intend to issue individual responses to submissions; however, the DERM website will provide details as to the number of consultation submissions received and the issues identified in the submissions.

If you have any queries you can contact a member of our team on 07 3231 2444.

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