Responding to Biodiversity Conservation Controls
Establish the Controls that apply
In order to determine the compliance regime to be followed, it is first necessary to establish what controls apply, if any, to the land and proposed activity.
Planning Scheme - Overlays
Confirm whether the Planning Scheme for a property is covered by any overlays that apply controls to vegetation clearance activities:
- Vegetation Protection (VPO)
- Environmental Significance (ESO)
- Significant Landscape (SLO)
- Erosion Management (EMO)
- Salinity Management (SMO)
- Heritage (HO)
This can be achieved by consulting the planning scheme maps at the local Council offices or via an internet search. A query can be undertaken via either of the following Victorian government web sites:
Planning Schemes 'On Line'
For each property, select the required Municipal Planning Scheme and then select 'Maps' to initiate a search by property address. The respective 'zoning' and 'overlay' details will be displayed.
Land Victoria 'On Line'
For each property, initiate a search by the most convenient criteria:
- Lot on Plan description
- Crown description
Select the 'Basic Property Report' option to obtain details (inter alia) of the zone and corresponding schedule and overlay/s and corresponding schedule/s if any.
Once the overlay/s for each property have been confirmed, consult Planning Schemes On Line to determine the controls that apply for each Overlay.
If any of the Overlays described above apply, then a permit will be required to remove, destroy or lop any vegetation or any vegetation specified in a schedule to the overlay except where the activity is exempt.
Planning Scheme - Particular Provisions (Clause 52.17 - Native Vegetation)
A permit is required to remove, destroy or lop 'native' vegetation unless an exemption applies. Of the exemptions that are listed, those that may apply to DHS Portfolio facilities are as follows:
- an area specified in the schedule to the clause
- vegetation specified in the schedule to the clause
- in accordance with a native vegetation precinct plan
- planted vegetation
- weeds and vermin
- fire fighting or asset protection
- dead vegetation
- emergency works
- site area less than 0.4 hectare
The exemption for 'planted vegetation' means that it does not apply to native vegetation comprising landscaped areas. The exemption for 'weeds' means that it does not apply to activities required to comply with the implementation of Catchment Management Strategies or 'notices' issued by a Catchment Management Authority to remove listed noxious 'weeds'.
The exemption for 'fire fighting or asset protection' means that it does not apply to activities required to comply with the implementation of 'Fire Prevention Notices' issued by Council or Country Fire Authority; or to reduce risks to buildings and other structures and electricity supply lines (under the Electricity Safety Act 1998) in the event of bush fire.
The exemption for 'dead vegetation' and 'emergency works' means that it does not apply in circumstances where dead or damaged 'native' trees represent a risk of personal injury or damage to property.
The exemption for 'site area less than 0.4 hectare' means that the provision only applies to larger DHS Portfolio facilities:
- public hospitals
- disability residential services
- juvenile justice centres
- community health centres
- nursing homes.
The expression 'site area' means the total area of contiguous land parcels in single ownership.
The 'EPBC' and 'FFG' controls
The intent of these Acts is to control threatening processes, such as land clearance, in order to conserve threatened and endangered flora and fauna.
The 'EPBC' and 'FFG' controls on land clearance can be considered to be controls over 'habitat' and only apply to land where 'listed' Flora and Fauna are present on site. The exposure of DHS Portfolio facilities to the land clearance controls of the 'PBC' or 'FFG' is considered to be low. The presence of 'listed' Flora and Fauna is most likely in circumstances where the land contains or is contiguous with extensive native vegetation on neighbouring land.