PLANNING SCHEME CHANGES TO NATIVE VEGETATION PROTECTION AND BUSHFIRE PLANNING

The Victorian State Government recently gazetted two changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions, which introduced Amendment VC138 and Amendment VC140.

VC 138 Native Vegetation Protection

Amendment VC138 implements reforms relating to the Victorian Government review of the planning provisions for native vegetation removal, with the changes said to be designed to strengthen biodiversity considerations.

The biggest change is the introduction of the ‘Guidelines for the Removal, Destruction or Lopping of Native Vegetation’ (the Guidelines) which is now an incorporated document in all planning schemes in Victoria.  Under Amendment VC138, Clause 52.16 (Native Vegetation Precinct Plan) and Clause 52.17 (Native Vegetation) now require that any application to remove, destroy, or lop native vegetation must comply with the application requirement specified in the Guidelines.  Whilst the Guidelines introduce a wide range of controls broadly speaking, the key aim is to ensure that the removal of native vegetation is restricted to only that which is reasonably necessary and that biodiversity is appropriately compensated.

VC 140 Bushfire Planning

Amendment VC140 implements changes aimed at ensuring that the State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF) enables a resilient response to settlement planning for bushfires.  The key change is updating Clause 13.05 (Bushfire Planning) of the SPPF to provide a greater focus on bushfire risk-based planning that prioritises the protection of human life.  Whilst amendment VC140 does not introduce any additional planning permit requirements, it does require planning authorities and responsible authorities to reduce the vulnerability of communities to bushfire by directing population growth and development to low risk locations and ensuring new development can implement bushfire protection measures.

Collie will be interested to see how the relevant planning authorities implement these changes.  In particular, the interpretation of what is considered ‘reasonably necessary’ in relation to native vegetation removal will be an interesting matter to monitor.

To view the Guidelines for the Removal, Destruction or Lopping of Native Vegetation, please use the link below.

http://dsewebapps.dse.vic.gov.au/Shared/ATSAttachment2.nsf/(attachmentopen)/938A8B350784315CCA2581F300188C9F/$File/Guidelines+for+the+removal,+destruction+or+lopping+of+native+vegetation+(DELWP+2017).pdf