Key features of the new legislation
Codes of practice support landholders to manage their land to ensure more productive farming methods and systems and to deliver improved environmental outcomes
Changes to allowable activities have been made to improve clarity and certainty in their application on rural land
Where clearing requires land to be set aside, a public register of these areas will be established
A native vegetation regulatory map will be developed that identifies rural land that is exempt or regulated under the new land management framework
A new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will be developed to regulate clearing vegetation in urban and other areas where it does not require development consent
Codes of practice allow landholders to undertake clearing that supports more productive farming methods and systems, while responding to environmental risks. Changes have been made to the publicly exhibited code metrics to respond to public feedback. These deliver simplified codes for landholders with improved environmental protections and productivity outcomes. Following consultation, allowable activities have been modified to improve clarity and certainty in their application on rural land.
There have also been some changes to the way set-asides will be established and managed. A public register of set-asides will be established to clarify set-aside management obligations and give effect to the intention that set-asides are in perpetuity and bind future landholders, without requiring them to be registered on title.
Native Vegetation Regulatory Map
The new laws make provisions for a Native Vegetation Regulatory Map that will indicate rural land where:
- Native vegetation clearing can occur without approval.
- Landholders need to comply with the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016.
The Native Vegetation Regulatory Map would be used by landholders, Local Land Services (LLS), local councils and other authorities to determine if native vegetation clearing is regulated.
The Department of Planning and Environment will develop a SEPP (Urban Vegetation) that will apply to land where the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map does not apply.
Bio-certification and strategic land-use mapping pilots
In partnership with local landholders, LLS will pilot development of strategic bio-certification applications in two rural areas. This will provide an opportunity to investigate the viability of bio-certification as an option in a regional/agricultural context.
Concurrently, LLS will pilot development of a regional strategic land-use map, using existing data to identify land that is (or is likely to be) of high, moderate and low conservation value at a landscape scale and land that is likely to be suitable for high-value agricultural development. The map could be used by landholders, LLS and others to inform decisions about conservation and development.
Land management in urban areas
Many submissions from local councils, environmental consultants and environment groups requested more information about the proposals for clearing in urban areas. The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 includes provision for a new SEPP (Urban Vegetation) to provide a strengthened baseline for protection of vegetation in urban areas and a more robust scheme for council permits.
The SEPP (Urban Vegetation) will apply to land in Sydney and Newcastle, urban zones across NSW, all environmental conservation zones, and R5 large lot residential zones.
Consultation will continue
- Draft codes of practice are currently under development and will be publicly exhibited from early 2017 before they are formally made by the Minister for Primary Industries (with the concurrence of the Minister for the Environment).
- The commencement of the native vegetation regulatory map provisions has been deferred to enable further stakeholder consultation. A transitional framework will apply until the map commences. Under the transitional arrangements, the same criteria will determine whether vegetation is regulated as will be used to categorise land on the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map. Landholders, with the assistance of LLS, will determine whether their vegetation meets the criteria rather than relying on the map.
- Following targeted stakeholder consultation on the map in early 2017, OEH will publish a draft map and landholder review provisions will commence. This will provide an opportunity for all landholders to seek a review of their property prior to the map having regulatory force. This period is expected to last at least six months. During this time, the transitional arrangements will continue to apply and the map will not be used as a regulatory tool.
- The Department of Planning and Environment will seek input in early 2017 from councils and other interested stakeholders to inform the preparation of the proposed SEPP (Urban Vegetation) and exhibition of a draft will take place by in early 2017.