Just last month on 17 March 2016, the Queensland government has put forward proposed changes to vegetation management laws in the sunshine state. The changes have been titled under the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, and propose to reinstate responsible vegetation management laws for Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2016). These proposed changes to the vegetation management plan stem from the election promises that the Queensland government made last year regarding taking further steps to better protect the Great Barrier Reef.
So what is purpose behind these proposed changes? Information from the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 indicates that the policy objectives and reasons for their implementation include:
- Reinstating a vegetation management framework to manage vegetation clearing in Queensland.
- Reducing ‘excessive’ clearing of riparian vegetation, especially in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
- Amending the Water Act 2000 (Water Act) to reinstate the application of the riverine protection permit framework.
- Amending the Environmental Offsets Act 2014 (Environmental Offsets Act) to reinstate environmental offset requirements.
According to the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, in order to achieve these policy objectives the Queensland government intends to reinstate three primary things:
- a revised vegetation management framework;
- the application of riverine protection framework; and
- environmental offset requirements to provide conservation outcomes for prescribed environmental matters.
The Reinstatement Bill is specific to Queensland and the changes to the vegetation management laws are currently being processed through the parliamentary committee process that is expected to report back to the parliament by 30 June 2016 (Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2016).
It is important to note that if the new Vegetation Management and Reinstatement Bill is passed in its current form, then there would be specific changes to the vegetation management framework that will be effective from 17 March 2016, which is the date the Bill was first introduced. As a consequence, it is important for those in the consulting and development sectors to understand the policy objectives and changes implemented in the Reinstatement Bill right now.
According to the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, before undertaking any of the following activities between 17 March 2016 and when the Bill commences, it is critical that the following activities are thoroughly assessed and cross-checked to ensure that they are lawful:
- Lodgment of an application to clear for the purpose of high-value agriculture or irrigated high-value agriculture.
- Clearance of regrowth vegetation on freehold or Indigenous land.
- Clearance of vegetation within 50 metres of watercourses in the Burnett-Mary, Eastern Cape York and Fitzroy Great Barrier reef catchments.
- Lodgment of an application to amend a vegetation map under a property map of assessable vegetation (PMAV).
It is important to note that undertaking vegetation-clearing activities under an already existing development approval, self-assessable vegetation clearing code or PMAV that has been granted prior to the 17 March 2016 will not be affected (Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2016). Additionally, applications for all other clearing activities under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 and Sustainable Planning Act 2009 will also not affected by the proposed changes (Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2016).
For further information and assistance with understanding the proposed changes to the vegetation management laws contact us here at Natura Consulting. Our team of experienced and professional consultants is always up to date with any relevant legislative changes in your industry, and we are able to offer a wide range of consulting and legislative services, all within a social enterprise framework. This means that your collaboration with us directly benefits your local community through our in-house education and community initiatives. Contact us now for more information.
Queensland Government, Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2016. Accessed from https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/our-department/policies-initiatives/vegetation-management/new-laws
Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016