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New Ground

Queensland’s vegetation management legislation is changing again – what you need to know – 16 March 2018

Vegetation clearing laws are again in the spotlight, with the Queensland Government introducing the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (the Bill) into parliament on 8 March 2018. The controversial Bill contains many components of the previous vegetation clearing “re-instatement” bill, introduced in 2016, which was defeated on the floor of parliament. The Bill re-establishes controls on regrowth vegetation and targets broad-scale clearing associated with agricultural activities.

 

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NSW government reinstates land clearing laws ruled invalid

The Berejiklian government has reinstated land clearing laws hours after they were ruled invalid, in what environmental advocates have described as “callous indifference to nature”.

The Land and Environment Court on Friday declared the code was invalid because Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair did not follow due process.

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Dr Rebecca Johnson, wildlife forensic scientist and director of the Australian Museum Research Institute

The woman pioneering conservation research, genetic and forensic science and the stamping out of illegal trafficking of wildlife.

As one of the 2017 ‘Superstars of STEM’ (a Science and Technology Australia initiative to break down gender assumptions among the science, technology, engineering and mathematics research industries, by celebrating dynamic female minds), Dr Rebecca Johnson is one of our most important wildlife forensic scientists.

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Indian mynas are on the move – to Ballarat

AN UNWELCOME IMMIGRANT

Small, brown birds with a black head and a bright yellow beak, legs and eye patch; notoriously aggressive and quarrelsome; thought to compete with native species of birds and mammals for food and nesting space.

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New Vegetation Management Regulation for Queensland

The Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced to the Queensland Parliament yesterday (8 March 2018) and sets out to amend the Vegetation Management Act 1999, the Planning Act 2016, the Planning Regulation 2017 and Water Act 2000 for the purposes of strengthening vegetation clearing regulation in Queensland.

The Bill is now undergoing parliamentary committee review (including a submissions process) prior to becoming law. In the meantime, we are in the ‘interim period’ prior to the Bill becoming law. The following regulations became effective during the interim period (from 8 March 2018):

  • Category C (High Value Regrowth vegetation) is now regulated under an accepted development vegetation clearing code on freehold, leasehold, indigenous lands as well as under occupational licences.
  • Category R is High Value Regrowth vegetation that is within 50 m of watercourses in Burnett-Mary, Eastern Cape York and Fitzroy Great Barrier Reef Catchments. Clearing of this vegetation is now regulated under an accepted development vegetation clearing code.
  • Essential Habitat for Endangered, Vulnerable and now Near Threatened species listed under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994 with Category C and R areas is also subject to provisions of an accepted development vegetation clearing code.

A few points on the above as follows:

  • Regulated Vegetation Management and Essential Habitat mapping has been updated to present the now-regulated high value regrowth vegetation. You can request a map for your property at https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/land/vegetation/map-request.
  • For the purposes of the Interim Period, the Bill (Part 2, Section 37, Clause 131-133) defines Category C and Category R vegetation as that presented as such by Regulated Vegetation Management mapping dated 8 March 2018. Essential Habitat is presented by Essential Habitat mapping of 8 March 2018 (Part 2, Section 37, Clause 141).
  • Looking beyond the Interim Period, Part 2, Section 38, Clause 38 of the Bill defines High Value Regrowth vegetation as regional ecosystem vegetation that has not been cleared for at least 15 years. Notwithstanding, we anticipate that Regulated Vegetation Management mapping designations will continue to be used as the default definition for High Value.
  • Areas mapped as Category X on a Property Map of Assessable Vegetation (PMAV) are exempt from the mapping changes. Further, the Bill (Part 2, Section 37, Clause 129-130) prescribes PMAV applications to show an area as Category X that were lodged prior to 8 March will not be subject to the reforms.
  • The Bill (Part 2, Section 38, Clause 143) introduces near threatened species habitat (in the context of regulated vegetation regulation) as a matter subject to the provisions of the Environmental Offsets Regulation 2014.
  • Part 3, Section 45 of the Bill provides for property planning applications made (and not decided) prior to 8 March 2018 to be considered under the Planning Act as it was prior to 8 March 2018. Clause 331 protects current development approvals from the changes sought by the Bill.
  • Part 4, Section 47, Clause 48 of the Bill is of particular importance to urban development in urban areas. In that it exempts urban area/urban purpose development activities from the requirement to seek a permit under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 with respect to High Value Regrowth Vegetation. Notwithstanding, the above mentioned interim period controls do apply to urban areas.
  • Part 5, Section 49 of the Bill foreshadows the re-introduction of the requirement for a Riverine Protection Permit under the Water Act 2000 where assessable vegetation (including High Value Regrowth) associated with a watercourse, spring or lake is proposed to be cleared.

We will continue to follow the passage of the Bill and will provide an overview of the broader range of provisions carried by the Bill following the parliamentary committee review process. Since the range of changes foreshadowed by the Bill will have a different impact on any given development/land management sector, I am doing a ‘travelling road show’ presenting to our clients and project partners on the potential ramifications of these reforms to their businesses and how to prepare for them. Please get in touch (nwills@newground.com.au) should you be interested in having me drop by your office to discuss over a coffee or present to your team.

This blog is intended as a general overview and opinion at the time of writing and should not be construed as project or situation-specific advice.

Second stage of second crossing edges closer

WORKS are about to start on the second stage of the $280 million Echuca-Moama bridge project, closing Warren St from early March 2018 to mid 2019.

‘‘We need to close Warren St between the Murray Valley Hwy roundabout and the Campaspe River bridge,’’ a project spokesperson said.

 

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Australia’s strategy for nature 2018-2030 – Open for Feedback

Environmental officials from all jurisdictions in Australian Government who make up the Biodiversity Working Group, reviewed Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: 2010 – 2030 back in November 2017. A revised strategy has been developed with the intention to improve its ability to drive change in biodiversity management priorities and better support Australia’s international biodiversity commitments.

The revised draft has three goals, which are supported by a total of 12 objectives:

  • Goal 1: Connect all Australians with nature
  • Goal 2: Care for nature in all its diversity
  • Goal 3: Build and share knowledge

While the draft strategy is high level by nature, the final version of this may ultimately be reflected in Federal Government policy, strategy and guidelines.

Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Inventory is open now for public comment until 16 March 2018.

Follow the link below to find out how you can make your submission:

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/conservation/strategy/draft-revision