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On 3 May 2018, the Queensland government delivered on one of its major election promises by passing the Vegetation Management and Other legislation Amendment Act 2018 (Qld) (“the Amendment Act”).
The Amendment Act restricts the rights of farmers to clear vegetation from their properties. The Amendment Act does this by re-classifying vegetation categories, extending protected areas, imposing stricter fines, and requiring new development applications to be made.
SUMMARY OF KEY CHANGES AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU
Re-classification of vegetation categories
Clearing permits and Development Applications
Despite the above restrictions, landholders can still conduct necessary clearing. This may include clearing for property infrastructure, controlling weeds, preparing for or recovering from natural disasters or managing encroachments.
Landholders may be required, at their own cost, to restore these areas if they have been cleared, without approval, since March 8 2018.
Managing thickened vegetation
The Amendment Act allows landholders to apply for vegetation clearing for managing thickened vegetation in Categories C and R.
The application must specify the location, extent and method of clearing. It must have evidence that clearing will comply with restrictions stated above and clearly demonstrate that the vegetation has thickened in comparison to the same regional ecosystem in the region.
Riverine Protection Permits under the Water Act 2000
Landholders are once again required to obtain permits for clearing vegetation in a watercourse, lake or spring under the Water Act 2000.
Permits were required for destruction of vegetation in the 1990s but removed in 2013.
Monitoring and Compliance
Under the Amendment Act, officers of the department can gain entry by giving a written notice of 24 hours if they have reasonable grounds to believe that vegetation clearing offence is happening or has happened. Consents or warrants are no longer required. The officers may also issue a stop work notice.
The penalty for offences has also increased substantially. For instance, fines for ‘failing to stop work or restore’ has increased from approximately $210,000 to approximately $568,000.
The State is still required to prove that the land holder is guilty.