This information summaries the current process for assessing planning applications for, or that involve, vegetation clearance under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (LUPAA) and under Forest Practices Act 1985.
This information sheet is tailored for vegetation clearance that may be necessary for residential and commercial development. For vegetation clearance associated with agriculture or forestry please contact the Forest Practices Authority on (03) 6233 7966 or www.fpa.tas.gov.au
What are ‘vegetation’ and ‘vegetation communities’?
Controls over vegetation clearance within Tasmania apply to both forest and non-forest (such as native grasslands) vegetation types.
In forest and woodlands, a vegetation community is comprised of both the upper canopy (trees) and the understorey (shrubs, grasses and groundcovers) and both these components of the vegetation community are equally protected. Therefore, you may need approval to clear vegetation even if you are not felling any trees.
The “removal, destruction or lopping of trees and the removal of vegetation or topsoil” is defined as ‘works’ under LUPAA and requires planning approval unless the nature of those works are exempt under the relevant planning scheme (see below). Depending on the scale and purpose of vegetation clearance and the type of vegetation, you may require:
- planning approval from Huon Valley Council under the planning scheme, and / or
- an approved Forest Practices Plan approval by the Forest Practices Authority.
You may also be exempt from one or both of these approval processes. Vegetation clearance that has been approved under a planning permit for the purposes of constructing a building and associated development will be exempt from the need for a Forest Practices Plan.
The Huon Valley Interim Planning Scheme 2015 provides the following list of exemptions under Clause 6.3.1:
Use or development described in subclause 6.3.2 is exempt from requiring a permit under this planning scheme, unless it involves:
(a) a place or precinct listed in a heritage code that is part of this planning scheme;
(b) an area that is subject to a code that is part of this planning scheme and which expressly regulates impacts on scenic or landscape values;
(c) an area that is subject to a code that is part of this planning scheme and which expressly regulates impacts on biodiversity values;
(d) disturbance of more than 1m2 of land that has been affected by a potentially contaminating activity;
(e) excavation or fill of more than 0.5m depth in a salinity hazard area or landslip hazard area shown in the planning scheme;
(f) the removal of any threatened vegetation; or
(g) land located within 30m of a wetland or watercourse.
In addition, the following exemptions are provided under Clause 6.3.2 of the Planning Scheme:
The planting, clearing or modification of vegetation for any of the following purposes:
- the landscaping and the management of vegetation:
- on pasture or cropping land, other than for plantation forestry on prime agricultural land; or
- within a garden, national park, public park or state reserved land, provided the vegetation is not protected by permit condition, an agreement made under Part 5 of the Act, covenant or other legislation;
- clearance or conversion of a vegetation community in accordance with a forest practices plan certified under the Forest Practices Act 1985;
- fire hazard management in accordance with a bushfire hazard management plan approved as part of subdivision or development;
- fire hazard reduction required in accordance with the Fire Service Act 1979 or an abatement notice issued under the Local Government Act 1993;
- fire hazard management in accordance with a bushfire hazard management plan endorsed by the Tasmanian Fire Service, Forestry Tasmania or the Parks and Wildlife Service;
- to provide clearance of up to 1m for the maintenance, repair and protection of lawfully constructed buildings or infrastructure including roads, tracks, footpaths, cycle paths, drains, sewers, power lines, pipelines and telecommunications facilities;
- for soil conservation or rehabilitation works including Landcare activities and the like and, provided that ground cover is maintained and erosion is managed, the removal or destruction of weeds declared under the Weed Management Act 1999;
- the implementation of a vegetation management agreement or a natural resource, catchment, coastal, reserve or property management plan provided the agreement or plan has been endorsed or approved by the relevant agency;
- safety reasons where the work is required for the removal of dead wood, or treatment of disease, or required to remove an unacceptable risk to public or private safety, or where the vegetation is causing or threatening to cause damage to a substantial structure or building;
- within 1m of a title boundary for the purpose of erecting or maintaining a boundary fence.
- Biodiversity CodeThe Planning Scheme also includes a Biodiversity Code which is identified on the planning scheme maps as a green dotted overlay. The overlay represents Biodiversity Protection Areas which form areas of high biodiversity value.This Code applies to any development involving the clearance and conversion or disturbance of native vegetation within a Biodiversity Protection Area. A variety of exemptions are applied under this Code including:
- clearance and conversion or disturbance associated with a Level 2 Activity under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994;
- forest operations, including clearing for agriculture, in accordance with a certified Forest Practices Plan;
- fire hazard management works in accordance with a bushfire hazard management plan endorsed by the Tasmanian Fire Service, Forestry Tasmanian or the Parks and Wildlife Service on land owned or administered by the Crown or Council;
- fire hazard management works in accordance with the Fire Services Act 1979 or an abatement notice issued under the Local Government Act 1993;
- fire hazard management works for an existing dwelling in accordance with a bushfire hazard management plan endorsed by an accredited person as defined under the Bushfire Prone Areas Code, wherein the extent of clearance and conversion and disturbance is the minimum necessary for adequate protection from bushfire;
- the removal or destruction of declared weeds or local environmental weeds;
- For clearing activities which are not exempt, the Code places limitations on the size of clearing which are summarised as follows:
- works considered necessary by an agency or council to remedy an unacceptable risk to public or private safety or to mitigate or prevent environmental harm;
- works considered necessary by an agency or council for the protection of a water supply, watercourse, lake, wetland or tidal waters or coastal values as part of a management plan;
- coastal protection works considered necessary by an agency or council that have been designed by a suitably qualified person;
- works within 2 m of existing infrastructure including roads, tracks, footpaths, cycle paths, drains, sewers, pipelines and telecommunications facilities for the maintenance, repair, upgrading or replacement of such infrastructure;
- works necessary to make safe power lines or for the maintenance, repair, upgrading or replacement of such infrastructure;
- works for the purpose or erecting or maintaining a boundary fence:
- within 4 m of a boundary line if within the Rural Resource or Significant Agricultural Zones; or
- within 2 m of a boundary line if in other zones;
- clearance and conversion or disturbance of an area no more than 750 m2 ;
- clearance and conversion or disturbance of previously cleared agricultural land;
The area of clearance and conversion is not more than 3, 000 square metres and the area of disturbance is no more than 6,000 square metres.
The area of clearance and conversion is not more than 1,500 square metres and the area of disturbance is not more than 3,000 square metres.
Where clearing would exceed the above requirements, an application will be required to demonstrate the following:
- development is designed and located to minimise impacts, having regard to constraints such as topography or land hazard and the particular requirements of the development;
- impacts resulting from bushfire hazard management measures are minimised as far as reasonably practicable through siting and fireresistant design of habitable buildings;
- remaining moderate priority biodiversity values on the site are retained and improved through implementation of current best practice mitigation strategies and ongoing management measures designed to protect the integrity of these values;
- residual adverse impacts on moderate priority biodiversity values not able to be avoided or satisfactorily mitigated are offset in accordance with the Guidelines for the Use of Biodiversity Offsets in the Local Planning Approval Process, Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority 2013 and any relevant Council policy.
In order to assess the above requirements, Council will likely require the submission of a Natural Values Survey prepared by a suitably qualified ecological consultant (Refer below for recommended listing of consultants).
Please note that significant financial penalties may be applied for vegetation clearance without planning approval or approval under the Forest Practices System.
Due to the complexities of vegetation clearance, it is strongly recommended that you only undertake vegetation clearance once you have the written consent of Huon Valley Council. This written consent may take the form of a planning permit or, alternatively, a written letter from Council stating that no planning permit is required.
A written request for advice on approval requirements can be submitted to Council and Council will seek to provide a written response within 7 to 14 days stating whether a planning permit is required or not. A written request for advice will need to include the following information:
- a site plan showing the area of the vegetation, all buildings and all watercourses, including winter creeks,
- the identity of the main tree species present (if possible) and photographs of the vegetation including
- a landscape image showing all trees and understorey
- close up images of the main tree species, particularly the leaves and flowers/seeds), and
- a photograph of any watercourses including winter creeks.
The Huon Valley Council recommends that Environmental Consultants engaged for assessment purposes have a permit that allows them to collect threatened flora species for identification purposes to ensure that a complete assessment of natural values according to DPIPWE’s Guidelines for Natural Values Assessments – http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Guidelines-for-Natural-Values-Assessments.pdf
|North Barker Ecosystem Services|
(03) 6231 9788
04095 525 538
0438 250 713
• Natural values assessments- Vegetation, flora and fauna habitat assessments
• Geographic Information Systems – mapping and data management
• Bushfire Hazard Management Plans
• Weed control, weed management plans and strategies
• Forest Practices Plans
• Strategic planning
Senior Environmental Scientist
Johnstone, McGee and Gandy
(03) 6231 2555
0409 623 615
• Environmental impact assessment
• Domestic and commercial wastewater design
• Noise assessment
• Contaminated land assessment under the NEP(ASC)M
Director of Conservation
(03) 6235 8000
0439 352 702
• Specialised vegetation and habitat assessments and management planning.
• Specialised weed management planning and on-ground weed management.
• Large scale revegetation.
0428 108 434
• Flora, Fauna and Geoheritage Surveys
• Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Assessments
|Lark & Creese|
(03) 6229 6563
• Natural Values Assessments
• Environmental Management Plans
• Weed Management Plans
• Construction Environmental Management Plans
• Bushfire Risk Assessments
The Huon Valley Council does not endorse nor recommend any person/company included on the above list. The information is provided to assist developers to identify those having previous experience with the preparation of Natural Values Assessments. Others not included on the list having appropriate skills and knowledge may also submit reports.
The regulations exempt some forms of vegetation clearance and these include (summarised from the document – Information on Land Clearing Controls, FPA, February 2010, www.fpa.tas.gov.au).
- small scale clearing where:
- The landowner has given consent, and
- The land is not ‘vulnerable land’ (see below), and
- No more than 1 hectare per property per year is cleared or timber volumes do not exceed 100 tonnes,
- clearing necessary to provide a reasonable buffer for existing infrastructure (e.g. dwellings, fences) or for public safety, and
- clearing native vegetation regrowth (containing no more than 20 eucalypts more than 2m tall within a 0.5 hectare area) on previously cleared and converted land (i.e. land that has not contained trees or threatened native vegetation for a period of at least 5 years since 1985).
If you are uncertain whether your property is affected by the Biodiversity Code or contains vegetation protected under state or federal legislation please contact Council’s Customer Service Office for further advice.