By Hannah Barbour, Associate
Following the introduction of the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Act (Act) earlier this year, the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DRNME) is reviewing each of the accepted development clearing codes (Codes).
The Code for managing thickened vegetation has been revoked. Proposals for managing thickened vegetation now require development approval under the Planning Act.
A new Code for fodder harvesting came into effect on 8 March 2018. Notifications are now restricted to a single lot with each notification being limited to 500 hectares. While there is no limit on the number of notifications that may be lodged per lot, landowners need to conduct a self-audit for all subsequent notifications to ensure previous fodder harvesting has been compliant with the Code.
There are also changes to the methods for fodder harvesting used in particular regional ecosystems. For example, some regional ecosystems are now limited to selective harvesting only, that is, felling individual fodder trees using a chainsaw or selectively pushing individual fodder trees using a tractor or dozer. When using strip harvesting, the width of each strip cannot exceed 50 metres, an area with a width of at least 1.5 times that of the adjacent strip must be retained and clearing for machinery access between strips must not exceed 15 metres in width.
An interim Code for managing Category C regrowth came into effect on 8 March 2018 with the major change being the removal of agriculture and grazing as a general permissible purpose, with the effect that clearing must fall within the other stated purposes (such as thinning of thickened regrowth vegetation) in order to be permitted under the Code.
Before operating under a Code, a landowner must notify DNRME and clearing cannot commence until DNRME provides written confirmation of the notification.
DNRME is currently seeking feedback on the revised Codes for clearing to improve agricultural efficiency, clearing for infrastructure and clearing for an extractive industry. Landowners wishing to make submissions on how these Codes might be improved have until 5pm on 18 December 2018.
This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.