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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.