Submission: Native Vegetation Clearance Procedure

Mark Chisholm
Native Vegetation Regulation, Biodiversity Division
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Level 16, 150 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne Victoria 3003 

Via email: [email protected] 

Dear Mark, 

Re: Native Vegetation Clearance Procedure 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Procedure to rely on the utility installations exemption in planning schemes – Water service providers. 

VicWater is the peak body of the Victorian water industry with its membership comprising Victoria’s 19 statutory water corporations. They are responsible for the provision of urban water and wastewater services, rural water supply including irrigation and related drainage services. VicWater has consulted with members of the VicWater Native Vegetation Reference Group on the preparation of this submission. 

Reference

Comment/recommended change

Introduction, second paragraph

  • Recommend the inclusion of “wastewater” and “treatment” services in the list of activities performed by the utility installations. The current text may be perceived to limit the procedure to utility installation performing the “collection, storage, distribution and flow measurement of water”.
  • Recommend a reference “statutory water corporations” under the Water Act 1989 and Water Industry Act 1994. 

1.2: Scope

2.2 Construction

  • Recommend clarification of scope to include “build new” infrastructure together with “upgrade, improve, augment” 

1.2: Scope

2.2 Construction

  • Recommend a reference to maintenance section 2.1 rather than the dot points as drafted 
  • Recommend replacement dot points as below:
    • Maintenance: see section 2.1
    • Construction: equal to or less than 0.5 hectares of native vegetation must be removed to upgrade, improve or augment an existing Utility installation, or build a new installation
    • Emergency access and works: are covered by an exemption under Cl 52.17
  • Recommend clarification of language “anything under 0.5 ha or a large tree"

1.4: Compliance

  • Comment – the finalisation of the procedure should not be delayed by the addition of an Appendix which further explains possible breaches and possible compliance and enforcement action 

2.1 Maintenance

  • Comment – the green box at top of p4 includes that “maintenance does not include the removal of large trees”. 
  • Recommend the procedure direct user to Construction section 2.2 by replacing the second dot point with “removal of any area above 0.5 ha or a large tree. See Construction section 2.2"

2.1.2: NV retention requirement

  • Comment – Water corporations recognise that operational measures must be in place to avoid unintentional impacts on native vegetation. Such measures could take several forms.
  • Recommend a check box requirement is included in the exempt project endorsement form, to confirm that suitable measures are in place and may be subject to review or audit 

2.1.4: Record keeping requirement

  • Comment – the purpose of record keeping is unclear. Water corporations support, in principle, the need for records to ensure accountability against the principle of “avoid or minimise”. 
  • Recommend a further detailed discussion between DELWP and VicWater/water corporation to ensure a shared understanding of the objective of record keeping, and agreement on the requirements to be imposed. 

Section 2.2: Construction

  • Comment – some water corporations have experienced problems utilising NVIM for the stated purpose. 
  • Recommend with “NVIM or EnSym”. 

2.2.3: Consultation requirement

  • Comment – section 2.2.5 finds a sensible balance between reasonable oversight of activities and delaying lower risk projects. 
  • Recommend a similar approach to section 2.2.3 whereby if a response from DELWP (to detailed assessment pathway consultation) is not received within the 15 working days timeframe, or time extension as notified, the water service provider can proceed according to an intermediate assessment pathway 

Section 2.3: Emergency Access

  • Recommend the removal of section 2.3. There is an existing “Emergency works” exemption under Cl 52.17? (Ref: Exemptions guidance, 2.4, p 9). 
  • Comment – during an emergency response, it may not practicable to prepare a native vegetation removal report within 5 days 

Appendix 1: Quick reference

  • Recommend the removal of the “Emergency access” column. 
  • Recommend add text under heading “Construction (< 0.50 ha native vegetation removal (add) or large tree removal)).
  • Recommend add text under heading “maintenance activity (add) excluding minor utility installation"

Glossary

  • Recommend including the minor/utility installation definition in the glossary. 

Please contact James Cleaver ([email protected]) should you have any questions, or if you would like to discuss any of the issues we have raised in greater detail. 

Yours sincerely 

Peter Morison
Chief Executive Officer 

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