Senior Environmental Consultant at Wolter Consulting Group, Stephen Hayes said the legislation will create significant challenges for developers if it is passed in its current form.
“This legislation takes us back to pre-2012 land clearing rules,” Stephen said.
“While the changes won’t have an effect on all developers it will catch out some who may have been sitting on a block for a few years.
“It also means developers buying new blocks will have to be aware of the changes and make allowances in their design.”
“The proposed changes will have the greatest impact on those areas on the outskirts of Brisbane through the major new development corridors.”
Stephen said the proposed amendments will affect Leasehold land, Indigenous land, occupational licenses and of particular impact to the land development industry, Freehold lands.
“A practical example of the impact of the new rules would be a property owner who has old growth vegetation on the boundary and who hasn’t been diligent in mowing up to the boundary,” Stephen said.
“Any vegetation that has not been cleared for at least 15 years can be defined as Category C High Value regrowth vegetation (HVRV) and will face development constraints.”
Whilst most of the land parcels to be affected lie generally outside of urban areas, Stephen recommends that a regulated vegetation map be obtained for individual land parcels.
Stephen said some exemptions will still apply to development applications under the proposed amendments.
“Land parcels smaller than 5ha in area are exempt from the proposed amendments,” Stephen said.
“However, given Local Council’s obligation to consider Matters of State Environmental Significance, we may see some recognition of the proposed bill’s impact within local planning schemes should the Bill become law.
“Additionally, current Property Maps of Assessable Vegetation (PMAV) with areas mapped as Category X will still be considered as un-regulated vegetation under the proposed Bill.”
Stephen said that while Development Approvals will remain current if approved prior to March 8 2018, any changes, even slight, would make them assessable under the new legislation.
“The state government has released mapping to detail the proposed changes and can be found on the Department of Natural Resources and Mining web site,” Stephen said.
“The proposed legislation is currently in the committee process and while written public submissions have closed, anyone who has an interest or concern with the legislation can attend the public hearings as a witness.
“The Wolter Consulting Environment team are highly experienced in all aspects of vegetation assessment and subsequent development application constraints.
“If you have any questions in relation to the legislation or would like further details before appearing as a witness, we would be happy to assist.”
Stephen said that despite the fact the legislation was yet to be approved by the parliament changes had been made in other areas in anticipation of it passing.
“It is highly likely this legislation will pass so it’s best to start considering how it will affect any future developments,” Stephen said.
“The downside to the legislation is that it has the potential to delay developments and increase costs.
“However it also presents an opportunity to change our thought processes when it comes to designing new developments and looking at ways to make those developments greener.
“We just need to start putting things in the right places.”
If you have any questions regarding the Vegetation Management Act, please email email our environment team at [email protected]