What is a self-assessable code?
The codes are made up of two key documents:
- the Ministerial Order (Order) which sets out the legal and enforceable provisions under the Native Vegetation Act 2003, and
- a landholder guide which provides step-by-step information to help landholders meet the requirements of the orders. The Guides include pictures, checklists and diagrams to illustrate the main points.
If the proposed clearing is consistent with the relevant code, it removes the need to apply to the Local Land Services (LLS) for approval in the form of a property vegetation plan (PVP).
Who developed these codes?
The codes have been developed through a consultative process, including considerable contributions by:
- Local Land Services
- Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)
- other key stakeholders.
What benefits will these codes offer landholders?
The codes remove unnecessary regulatory burden for landholders. If a proposed clearing activity is consistent with conditions outlined in an order, then no approval will be required. For example, it is estimated:
- Invasive native species: 20%-50% of current PVPs would not be required under this code;
- Paddock trees: 10%-80% of current PVPs would not be required under this code. The highest beneficiaries will be western landholders with >70% of PVPs being covered by the code. Central and northern regions will likely have 30-40% while in southern parts of NSW, approximately 20% of PVPs would be covered by the code; and
- Thinning: most of the current PVPs would not be required under this code.
This represents real savings in processing time, allowing landholders to get on with managing their farms sustainably without the need to wait for government assessment and approval.
Do landholders need to read the whole codes?
No. The landholder Guides guides should be the source of information, just like reading the road rules handbook.
For consultation, can I simply review the landholder guide and provide comment on that?
Yes. Feedback on the rules and information in the guides would be welcome and useful.
Will native vegetation still be protected?
Yes. Each code has been prepared to provide a balance between removing the need for government approval and protecting the environment. The codes contain provisions that protect the most important environmental assets. For example the paddock tree code does not allow the clearing of large trees (greater than 80 cm diameter) that are likely to have important habitat for threatened species.
The self-assessable codes relate to low-risk management activities. Where clearing is more complex and can’t be cleared in accordance with a code, a landholder will still need to apply to the Local Land Services for a property vegetation plan (PVP), consistent with current practice.
Compliance, enforcement and audit programs will be implemented to ensure clearing activities comply with the codes.
Will Iandholders have to notify anyone before clearing using a self-assessable code?
Yes. Landholders will have to notify their Local Land Services office prior to clearing.
An online notification process will make this process quick and easy. There is no cost associated with notification and no formal response to the notification is required before commencing clearing.
Notification provides an opportunity for landholders to request assistance from Local Land Services or simply to access further information. Notification also allows government and the community to understand the amount and extent of clearing carried out under the codes.
Will the codes apply to private native forestry (PNF) land?
No, the codes will not apply to activities on land identified in a private native forestry PVP. Go to the Environment Protection Authority website for further information.
Is the Native Vegetation Act 2003 also being reviewed?
Yes. Last year the NSW Government announced its intention to modernise the laws governing native vegetation and biodiversity management.
This will be a complex project. It will be a major evidence-based process requiring careful planning, detailed analysis and extensive consultation and engagement with peak stakeholders.
What support material and/or information will be provided to landholders regarding the orders?
Landholder guides have been developed to assist landholders understand the requirements of each order.
Local Land Services will also develop a suite of extension tools, locally specific information sheets, case studies and other educational resources to assist landholders to use the codes in practice.
In addition, there will be targeted demonstration/field testing trials conducted during the public exhibition period. Contact your Local Land Services office for details of these resources and activities.
When will the self-assessable codes come into effect?
The self-assessable codes are expected to come into effect later in 2014. These codes are draft only and cannot currently be used to regulate clearing. The existing rules apply. Contact your Local Land Services for more information.
What other self-assessable codes are planned?
Ministerial Orders for grasslands, groundcover rehabilitation, clearing of feral species, clearing of Mulga and revegetation are in preparation.
They are likely to be exhibited later in 2014.
What is the next step in the process?
Each code will be put on public exhibition from 27 March to 26 May, 2014. This is the next step in an ongoing approach to seek input and comments from interested stakeholders.
How can people make comments regarding the codes?
Interested parties are encouraged to provide comments:
- Online at: http//engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/NativeVegetation
- By post:
PO Box A290
Sydney South, NSW 1232
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is a Ministerial Order?
The new Native Vegetation Regulation 2013 provides for the creation of Ministerial Orders that allow for certain types of low risk clearing. A Ministerial Order (order) is the legal term referred to in the Regulation.