REFORMS TO

VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION
PERMITTED
CLEARING
REGULATIONS
OVERVIEW
MAY 2013
Published by the Victorian Government Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Melbourne, May 2013
© The State of Victoria Department of Environment and
Primary Industries 2013
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Cover images: Mallee, Donkey Orchid, Red Gums, Victoria
PAGE I
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
CONTENTS
Minister’s foreword 2
1. Review of Victoria’s native vegetation permitted clearing regulations 3
2. Reform package 4
3. Implementation schedule 6
3.1 Priority reforms 6
3.2 Supporting reform 1 – Define state and local government regulatory and planning roles 8
3.3 Supporting reform 2 – Better regulatory performance 9
3.4 Supporting reform 3 – Improve ofset market functionality 10
3.5 Supporting reform 4 – New approaches to compliance and enforcement 11
3.6 Supporting reform 5 – Continuous improvement program 12
PAGE 2
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
MINISTER’S FOREWORD
Victoria’s native
vegetation plays
an important role
in maintaining our
precious biodiversity.
The state’s native
vegetation permitted
clearing regulations
ensure impacts on
biodiversity are considered when decisions
regarding land use change and development
are made.
Last year, the Victorian Government confirmed
the important role the permitted clearing
regulations play in protecting biodiversity and
identified a range of reform directions that
would improve their operation.
It gives me great pleasure to release Reforms to
Victoria’s native vegetation permitted clearing
regulations – the final approach to how we will
regulate permitted clearing in Victoria.
The reforms recognise that regulation is most
efective when it is grounded by clear objectives,
is appropriately designed and can be easily
understood by landholders and the community.
These new regulations provide greater focus on
managing risks to important biodiversity assets
and ensure the assessment and decision making
process is guided by risk and impact. The
reforms are designed to deliver better targeted
environmental outcomes at lower costs to
the community.
Feedback from the community on the
reform package has been an important part
of the process and I would like to thank
everyone for their valuable contribution. I look
forward to working with the community on
implementation.
These important reforms are part of the
Victorian Government’s commitment to
improving our performance as an environmental
regulator – for stronger environmental
outcomes for all Victorians.
The Hon Ryan Smith MP
Minister for Environment and Climate Change
PAGE 3
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
In September 2012, the Victorian Government announced a review of Victoria’s native vegetation
permitted clearing regulations. The aim of the review was to improve and strengthen the regulatory
system to deliver better outcomes for the environment and the community.
As a result of the review, reforms to the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations will be
implemented. These will ensure:
>
a stronger focus on the value of native vegetation for statewide biodiversity
>
reduced regulatory burden for landholders while at the same time providing upfront information
about the value of native vegetation on their land
>
improved decision making.
As part of the review process, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Ryan
Smith MP, released the public consultation paper Future directions for native vegetation in Victoria
– Review of Victoria’s native vegetation permitted clearing regulations. The consultation paper
outlined the proposed reforms and sought feedback from stakeholders and the community about
issues with the current permitted clearing regulations, as well as issues related to implementing the
proposed reforms.
A response to key issues raised during the consultation process, including issues raised in
submissions to the consultation paper, has been prepared. This document Reforms to Victoria’s
native vegetation permitted clearing regulations – Summary of consultation process is available at
www.depi.vic.gov.au/nativevegetation.
The Victorian Government has finalised the details of the reforms and is proceeding with their
implementation. The four priority reforms are:
>
clarify and amend the objective of the permitted clearing regulations
>
improve how the biodiversity value of native vegetation is defined and measured
>
improve decision making
>
ensure ofsets provide appropriate compensation for the environment.
To support the implementation of the priority reforms, five supporting reforms will also be
implemented. These reforms are:
>
define state and local government regulatory and planning roles
>
better regulatory performance
>
improve ofset market functionality
>
new approaches to compliance and enforcement
>
continuous improvement program.
This document outlines the schedule for implementation of reforms to the native vegetation
permitted clearing regulations. It provides a description of the documents that have been released
publicly, as well as the timing for further release of related documents. The reforms will commence
following amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions in September 2013.
1. REVIEW OF VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION
PERMITTED CLEARING
REGULATIONS
PAGE 4
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
Implementation of the reforms will be a staged approach. To facilitate implementation of the four
priority reforms, key regulatory documents and information tools have been released. Further
guidance will be released ahead of the amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions.
The documents and biodiversity information tools summarised below are available at
www.depi.vic.gov.au/nativevegetation.
Amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions
This document sets out the proposed changes to the clauses in the Victoria Planning Provisions
(VPP) that are required to implement the reforms to the native vegetation permitted clearing
regulations. Only the clauses in the VPP that are to be amended are included in this document.
The clauses proposed to be amended are:
>
12.01 Biodiversity (State Planning Policy Framework)
>
52.16 Native vegetation precinct plan
>
52.17 Native vegetation
>
66.02 Use and development referrals
>
81.01 Table of documents incorporated in this scheme
This document includes an explanation of the amendments and how they have been designed
to implement the reforms.
Permitted clearing of native vegetation – Biodiversity
assessment guidelines
These guidelines support the biodiversity assessment of applications for planning permits to remove
native vegetation. These will replace Victoria’s Native Vegetation – A Framework for Action as an
incorporated document in Victorian planning schemes.
Native vegetation gain scoring manual
This manual outlines the steps taken to measure the gains in the contribution to Victoria’s
biodiversity made by native vegetation ofsets. This measurement is called gain scoring. Ofsets are
required to compensate for the permitted removal of native vegetation. This manual will replace the
Vegetation Gain Approach.
Biodiversity information tools used in native vegetation
decisions – Explanatory document
This document explains the biodiversity information tools that support the application of the native
vegetation permitted clearing regulations. It describes what these tools measure, the data inputs
they are based on, and a brief introduction to the methodology of their development.
2. REFORM PACKAGE
PAGE 5
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
Biodiversity information tools
The biodiversity information tools released are summarised in Table 1.
Table 1: Biodiversity information tools used to support the application of the
native vegetation permitted clearing regulations
Information tools Description
Native vegetation location
risk map
A map which outlines risk categories based on rarity and
depletion of biodiversity values at a location. This is one
input to determine the risk-based pathway.
Native vegetation extent map
A map that indicates areas of land covered by native
vegetation in Victoria.
Native vegetation
condition map
A map that indicates how close the native vegetation in
Victoria is to its mature natural state, as represented by a
benchmark reflecting pre-settlement circumstances.
Strategic biodiversity map
A map that indicates the relative value of a location in the
landscape with regard to its condition, extent, connectivity
and the support function it plays for species.
Habitat importance maps for
rare or threatened species
Maps that indicate the relative importance of locations as
habitat for a particular rare or threatened species.
PAGE 6
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
This schedule outlines the timing of implementation of reforms to the native vegetation permitted
clearing regulations.
Documents which have been released are now publicly available at
www.depi.vic.gov.au/nativevegetation.
3.1 Priority reforms
Table 2: Priority reforms implementation schedule
Task Purpose Timing
Release proposed amendments
to Victoria Planning Provisions:
> Relevant clauses
> Incorporated document:
Permitted clearing of native
vegetation – Biodiversity
assessment guidelines
To make changes to the
Victoria Planning Provisions
(VPP) required to implement
the reforms to the regulations.
This includes a new
incorporated document to
guide how biodiversity should
be considered when assessing
a permit to remove native
vegetation.
Released
To be incorporated
into the VPP for
commencement
September 2013
Release biodiversity information
tools:
> Native vegetation extent map
> Native vegetation condition map
> Strategic biodiversity map
> Habitat importance maps
> Native vegetation location
risk map
Provide biodiversity
information tools to support
application of the permitted
clearing regulations.
Released
Release Native vegetation
gain scoring manual
Provide detail on updated
methodology for gain scoring
for ofset sites.
Released
Release Application for a permit
to remove native vegetation –
Biodiversity assessment handbook
Provide technical detail and
guidance for
decision makers when
assessing permits to
remove native vegetation.
Finalised by
September 2013
Release Application for a permit
to remove native vegetation –
Permit applicant’s guide
Provide guidance for permit
applicants on the permit
application process and the
application requirements.
Finalised by
September 2013
3. IMPLEMENTATION SCHEDULE
PAGE 7
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
Task Purpose Timing
Provide training to permit
decision makers on the
reformed regulations
Ensure decision makers
understand changes in the
application of the regulations
and that they implement the
reformed system consistently
and efectively.
June – September
2013
Release biodiversity
assessment tool
To provide a tool to support
landholders and decision
makers in determining
biodiversity value and
regulatory requirements
relating to an application to
remove native vegetation.
Finalised by
September 2013
Release revised Habitat hectares
manual and update the Gain
scoring manual to reflect changes.
Provide the technical
approach to determine
the condition score and
the habitat hectares
of native vegetation.
Finalised by
December 2013
Provide updated training for
native vegetation assessors
Provide training on the
updated habitat hectare
assessment method.
August – December
2013
Release Application for a permit
to remove native vegetation –
Site assessment guidelines
To set out the requirements
for the content of a site
assessment report, including
the specific requirement
for moderate and high risk
applications.
Finalised by
December 2013
Update precinct
planning guidelines
Provide up to date guidance
regarding the application of
land use planning tools for
native vegetation protection.
Finalised by
December 2013
Update MOUs with
government agencies
Ensure MOUs reflect reformed
regulations.
Finalised by
June 2014
PAGE 8
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
3.2 Supporting reform 1 – Define state and local government
regulatory and planning roles
Local government plays an important role in achieving the objective of the permitted clearing
regulations. They are responsible for setting directions for land use and development within their
local area, and assessing the majority of permits to remove native vegetation.
More recently, local governments have also expanded their role in the native vegetation regulatory
system by providing over-the-counter ofsets for the removal of native vegetation.
Supporting reform 1 aims to clarify the roles and responsibilities of state and local government
in order to work together to deliver the proposed reforms. This includes training to support
the application of the permitted clearing regulations; updating existing arrangements for
the management of native vegetation on council property; and guidance to assist with the
consideration of biodiversity in strategic planning processes.
Table 3: Supporting reform 1 implementation schedule
Task Purpose Timing
Provide training to local
government on changes to the
permitted clearing regulations
Ensure decision makers
understand changes in the
application of the regulations
and that the reforms are
implemented consistently and
efectively.
June – September
2013
Update memorandum of
understandings (MOUs) with
local government and public
land managers
Update MOUs to reflect
changes to regulations and
ensure they clearly define
roles, responsibilities and
accountabilities in relation
to the native vegetation
permitted clearing regulations.
Completed by
June 2014
Work with local governments
to develop an approach
for the use of overlays for
biodiversity objectives
Improve clarity and
accountability in the
application and assessment
of permits to remove native
vegetation where a relevant
overlay exists.
Completed by
June 2014
Update the VPP Practice
Note – Biodiversity
Provide up to date guidance
regarding the application of
land use planning tools for
protection and management
of biodiversity assets.
Completed by
December 2013
PAGE 9
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
3.3 Supporting reform 2 – Better regulatory performance
This reform aims to ensure quality, proportionality and transparency of the native vegetation regulatory
system. Systems and processes will be updated to better monitor regulatory performance.
This includes increasing the use and usability of data management systems and consolidating
guidance material. Broadening regulatory performance indicators will also enable improved
accountability and public reporting.
Table 4: Supporting reform 2 implementation schedule
Task Purpose Timing
Update and consolidate guidance
material not addressed in the
priority reforms
Consolidate and improve
consistency of guidance
material to enhance usability.
Completed by
June 2014
Update systems to manage and
monitor regulatory performance
Improve use and usability
of regulatory monitoring
systems.
Completed by
June 2014
Develop a new framework
to transparently report on
the performance of the
regulatory system
Review and update
performance and improve
public reporting of native
vegetation removal and
ofsetting.
Completed by
June 2014
Implement internal quality
assurance processes
Ensure regulations are being
applied consistently.
Completed by
June 2014
Introduce legislation to
support the functioning of
the ofset market
Support ofset market
function through the creation
of a legislative framework for
the operation of the native
vegetation credit register.
Completed by
June 2014
PAGE 10
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
3.4 Supporting reform 3 – Improve ofset market functionality
New processes and guidance materials are required to implement policy changes to improve
the functionality of the ofset market. These changes are designed to enhance ofset market
functionality through improved competition and increased flexibility of how ofsets can be provided.
Measures to facilitate this include increased information availability and the provision of a broader
range of ofsetting options. This reform includes the expansion and improvement of over-the-counter
ofset programs, and the development of an integrity framework for ofsetting on public land.
Table 5: Supporting reform 3 implementation schedule
Task Purpose Timing
Release guidance for property
vegetation plans
To assist the Department
of Environment and
Primary Industries (DEPI)
and landholders in
developing and preparing
property vegetation plans
in line with the requirements
of the new system.
September 2013
Release native vegetation
credit transition plan
Outline plan for transitioning
existing native vegetation
credits to the new system.
September 2013
Release guidance for
over-the-counter programs
To provide guidance to
support the increased role
of over-the-counter ofset
programs, including outlining
minimum standards for their
functionality and integrity.
September 2013
Release updated BushBroker
public information and
guidance material
Update supporting
information to reflect
changes in ofsetting rules
and requirements.
Completed by
June 2014
Develop a standard native
vegetation management plan
template for ofset sites
Provide a formal,
consistent approach for
the development of native
vegetation management
plans for ofset sites.
Completed by
June 2014
Develop administrative approach
for the removal of native
vegetation on public land
Provide an appropriate
and consistent approach
for the administration of
removal of native vegetation
on public land.
Completed by
June 2014
Develop integrity framework
for ofsetting on public land
Ensure transparency,
accountability and
additionality for ofsetting
on public land.
Completed by
June 2014
PAGE 11
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
3.5 Supporting reform 4 – New approaches to compliance
and enforcement
This reform aims to further strengthen compliance and enforcement which is central to the
efectiveness of the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations. It is expected that reforms
to these regulations will help to create incentives for landholders, and ofset providers, to comply
with the regulations.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) will work with local government to
develop a cost-benefit based compliance and enforcement strategy that ensures the obligations of
the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations are being met.
Table 6: Supporting reform 4 implementation schedule
Task Purpose Timing
Develop compliance and
enforcement strategy
Work with local governments
to develop a cost-benefit
based compliance and
enforcement strategy that
ensures the obligations of the
permitted clearing regulations
are being met.
Completed by
June 2014
Implement compliance and
enforcement strategy
Work with local government
to implement the compliance
and enforcement strategy.
Completed by
December 2014
PAGE 12
REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S
NATIVE VEGETATION PERMITTED
CLEARING REGULATIONS
3.6 Supporting reform 5 – Continuous improvement program
A continuous improvement program for the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations
will be undertaken, including the following:
>
DEPI working with the Commonwealth Government to ensure the interoperability of
state and Commonwealth regulation, and to reduce regulatory burden
>
a review of the exemptions from requiring a permit to remove native vegetation under
the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations
>
periodically reviewing and updating the biodiversity information tools, to reflect new
data and information
>
addressing any issues that emerge following implementation.
Processes will be implemented to manage periodical updates to information, and further
work will be undertaken in relation to exemptions and interoperability between state and
Commonwealth regulation.
Table 7: Supporting reform 5 implementation schedule
Task Purpose Timing
Release biodiversity information
strategy, including process for
updating spatial information
Set out process for periodic
incorporation of new and
improved information into
models including species
habitat, threatened status
of species, threats to
biodiversity, and impact of
removal of native vegetation
within and outside of the
native vegetation permitted
clearing regulations.
Completed by
June 2014
Undertake review of exemptions
for requiring a permit to remove
native vegetation
Improve certainty, clarity and
operability and ensure that
exemptions are appropriate
under the new system.
Completed by
December 2014
Seek accreditation of specific
ofset arrangement for purposes
of the Environment Protection
and Biodiversity Conservation
Act 1999 where appropriate
Ensure interoperability of
state and Commonwealth
regulation.
Ongoing
Update biodiversity
information tools
Periodically incorporate new
and improved biodiversity
information into the tools.
Periodically
DOT7728/13