In an attempt to correct what it called a swing too far towards
"extreme green politics", the Queensland Government has
made changes to the State's vegetation management laws that
commenced on 2 December 2013. The new laws permit clearing in
certain circumstances where it was formerly impossible or heavily
New permissible clearing
Going forward, landholders will be able to apply to clear
remnant vegetation and regulated regrowth vegetation for high value
agriculture, irrigated high value agriculture and certain necessary
Approval can be sought to clear for broadacre cropping
(including sugar cane), annual horticulture, perennial horticulture
and irrigated pastures. As part of the application, a landholder
must demonstrate that the proposed clearing meets the Department of
Natural Resources and Mines' guidelines for high-value
agriculture, that the land is suitable (having regard to the
suitability mapping available on the Department's website),
that there is no suitable alternative site for the clearing, that
the development is viable and, in the case of an irrigation
project, that the landholder has access to enough water.
The State Assessment Referral Agency offers pre-lodgement
meetings to assist landholders to better understand application
Removal of regrowth regulation on freehold land
In late 2009, the former Queensland Government introduced
additional restrictions on the clearing of certain "high
value" regrowth on freehold land not cleared since 31 December
These restrictions have been removed except for vegetation
within 50 metres of identified watercourses in the Burdekin,
Mackay–Whitsunday and Wet Tropics Great Barrier Reef
The Government has attempted to simplify the State's
vegetation mapping to allow landholders to more readily identify
which areas are subject to clearing regulations.
Of primary importance to rural landholders is an exemption that
allows areas of regrowth mapped as Category X on the new Regulated
Vegetation Management Map to be cleared without restrictions under
the Vegetation Management Act (although, as is the case
with all clearing, it may be subject to other laws).
All landholders should obtain copies of the new vegetation maps
for their properties. They are available at no cost from the
Department of Natural Resources and Mines' website –
please click here.
Self-assessable vegetation clearing codes
Generally, only clearing that is exempt, conducted in accordance
with a self-assessable vegetation clearing code or an area
management plan or undertaken pursuant to an approval is
permissible. The Government has attempted to streamline the laws by
introducing new self-assessable codes for most of the purposes for
which clearing is permitted.
"High value" regrowth on leasehold land not cleared
since 31 December 1989 is shown as Category C on the Regulated
Vegetation Management Map. Under the self-assessable code for
managing Category C regrowth, vegetation classified as "least
concern" on the Department's supplementary mapping can be
cleared for any purpose in most circumstances. "Of
concern" and "endangered" vegetation can be cleared
in more limited circumstances.
Other self-assessable vegetation clearing codes allow clearing
for purposes including necessary infrastructure such as yards and
water facilities, weed control, fodder harvesting in western
Queensland and improving the operational efficiency of existing
Before clearing under a self-assessable code, landholders are
not required to obtain a permit but must submit a clearing
notification form, identifying the area to be cleared with GPS
coordinates, to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines. The
form can be submitted online at the Department's website or in
hard-copy, no fees apply and the notification is valid until the
ownership of the property changes. When clearing, the rules in the
relevant code must be followed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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