The revised list of exemptions to clearing controls is a sensible balance between conservation and farming operations according to the Environmental Farmers Network. Spokesperson, Andrew Bradey, a sheep and cattle farmer from Edenhope was speaking on the release by Planning Minister Madden of the revised exemptions.
The Minister for Planning in the Victorian Government has this week released a revised list of exemptions from controls on native vegetation clearing under clause 52.17 of the State Planning Act. The exemptions enable limited clearing of native vegetation without need for a permit when erecting farm buildings and fences, collecting firewood for personal use, controlling pest animals and weeds as well as for emergency services and public utilities.
“The new list of exemptions has ironed out most of the ambiguities found in the old list. For example, until now, rubbery terms such as ‘the minimum extent necessary’ and ‘cutting of reasonable amounts of wood’ were in the exemptions and led to many arguments and occasional court cases between farmers, their local Shire and State Government officials” said Andrew Badey. "Now most of these vague terms have been replaced with concise numbers. This change alone will greatly streamline farming practices by providing certainty and removing fear of litigation which has been present since clearing regulations were introduced in 1989”.
Some of the changes have imposed tighter restrictions on farmers. Gathering firewood with a bulldozer is no longer an exempt activity and neither is the removal of large, standing dead trees.
On the other hand there has also been some easing of restrictions. Andrew said clearing of native vegetation in order to carry out control of pest animals no longer requires DSE approval. Also Councils will now have the power to declare certain species of native vegetation as noxious weeds which can then be removed without restriction.
The changes to the list of exemptions have been made over a three year consultation period and will be good for conservation of native trees and wildlife on farms without inflicting pain on farmers. They are thoughtful, timely and deserve the support of Victorian farmers.
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