SEAVROC Native Vegetation Clearing Guidelines

These Guidelines are designed to assist landholders in the SEAVROC Shires understand native vegetation clearing legislation in Western Australia and the process for clearing applications. If you need help with an application, are unsure about whether your clearing activity is exempt from the regulations or have any general enquiries please contact our Environmental Officers, Cheryl Shenton on (08) 9645 1605.

To view / download the Clearing Guidelines and Fact Sheet in PDF format please click the links below.

Native Vegetation Clearing Guidelines For SEAVROC Landholders

Beverley Brookton Cunderdin Quairading York

These Guidelines are designed to assist landholders in the SEAVROC Shires understand native vegetation clearing legislation in Western Australia and the process for clearing applications.

SEAVROC employs two Environmental Officers, based at the Shire of Quairading, who are able to assist landholders with native vegetation clearing enquiries. If you need help with an application, are unsure about whether your clearing activity is exempt from the regulations or have any general enquiries, please contact us:

Jen Vincent Environmental Officer

Jen Vincent Environmental Officer Information
Phone (08) 9645 1607
Mobile 0447 898 995
Email epo@quairading.wa.gov.au

Cheryl Shenton Environment Officer

Cheryl Shenton Environment Officer Information
Phone (08) 9645 1605
Mobile 0427 450 236
Email qshireeo@quairading.wa.gov.au

Alternatively contact the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC):

Native Vegetation Conservation Branch, Department of Environment and Conservation on (08) 9219 8744 or at www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/.

When Do I Need A Clearing Permit?

Before you think about filling out an application form for a clearing permit, you should check whether the clearing could be carried out under an exemption. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act), clearing of native vegetation will require a permit from DEC unless the clearing is for an exempt purpose. An exemption is a clearing activity you can undertake without a clearing permit. Some exemptions are limited to a combined total of 1 hectare per property per financial year.

Note that exemptions within the Clearing Regulations do not apply within environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) as described in the Environmental Protection (Environmentally Sensitive Areas) Notice 2005. DEC has an online ‘Native Vegetation Map Viewer’ at www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/ in the ‘data’ tab to assist landholders in determining the location of ESAs.

There are a number of exemptions from the requirement for a clearing permit that apply to landholders for everyday activities, please see below for the most common clearing situations.

If a valid exemption does not apply for the purpose of proposed clearing, a clearing permit is required.

Common Clearing Situations

I want to clear along a fenceline on my property and/or on Crown land.

Item 10 of regulation 5 of the Clearing Regulations provides an exemption for clearing along a fence line of, or within, a property to the width necessary to provide access to construct or maintain a fence, provided that the clearing, combined with other limited exempt clearing on the property, does not exceed 1 hectare in the financial year in which the clearing takes place. This exemption applies to the owner of the property on which the clearing is to take place. This exemption does not apply in ESAs.

Item 11 of regulation 5 of the Clearing Regulations provides an exemption for clearing between private property and Crown land (e.g. a road reserve), provided that the clearing on the Crown land is no more than 1.5 metres from the fence. This exemption applies to the owner of the land on which the clearing is to take place, therefore the written approval of the owner of that Crown land (e.g. the Local Government in the case of a road reserve) must be obtained prior to undertaking the clearing. This exemption does not apply in ESAs.

I want to carry out fire hazard reduction burning on my property

Item 3 of regulation 5 of the Clearing Regulations provides an exemption for clearing by burning for fire hazard reduction, provided that the burning occurs outside of the restricted periods declared under the Bush Fires Act 1954 and that it is done in a way that minimises long term damage to the environmental value of the vegetation. This exemption applies to the owner of the land on which the clearing is to take place. This exemption does not apply in environmentally sensitive areas.

Whilst having regard to safety issues, care should be taken not to carry out hazard reduction burning so frequently that it will reduce or prevent ability of the vegetation to recover.

I want to clear for firewood

Item 5 of regulation 5 of the Clearing Regulations provides an exemption for clearing to provide firewood for use by the owner or occupier of the property for domestic heating or cooking, provided that the clearing does not kill any livevegetation or prevent regrowth of the vegetation, that the clearing is carried out to provide firewood to the extent to which it could not be obtained from vegetation already cleared for another purpose, and that the clearing, combined with other limited exempt clearing on the property, does not exceed 1 hectare in the financial year in which the clearing takes place.

This exemption applies to the owner or occupier of the land on which the clearing is to take place. This exemption does not apply in ESAs. The firewood must not be sold.

I want to clear to maintain existing cleared areas around a building, fence line, fire risk reduction area for a building, vehicle or walking track.

Item 15 of regulation 5 of the Clearing Regulations provides an exemption for clearing to maintain existing cleared areas around infrastructure for the following purposes, provided that the land was lawfully cleared within the 10 years immediately prior and the clearing is to the extent previously lawfully cleared for that purpose; around a building or structure for the use of the building or structure; for a fire risk reduction area for a building; to maintain an area along a fence line to provide access to construct or maintain the fence; or to maintain a vehicle or walking track.

This exemption also applies to clearing of land that was previously lawfully cleared (possibly in excess of 10 years prior) for the following purposes, provided that the clearing does not exceed the extent specified for that purpose:

  • around a building or structure for the use of the building or structure - maximum of 20 metres;
  • for a fire risk reduction area for a building - maximum of 20 metres;
  • to maintain an area along a fence line to provide access to construct/maintain the fence – maximum of 5 metres; or
  • to maintain a vehicle or walking track – maximum of 5 metres.

This exemption applies to the owner or occupier of the land on which the clearing is to take place. This exemption does not apply in ESAs.

I want to clear an isolated tree on my property

Item 19 of regulation 5 of the Clearing Regulations provides an exemption for clearing an isolated tree on a property, provided that the tree is more than fifty metres from any other native vegetation, and that the clearing, combined with other limited exempt clearing on the property, does not exceed 1 hectare in the financial year in which the clearing takes place. This exemption applies to the owner of the property on which the tree is located. This exemption does not apply in ESAs.

I Need A Clearing Permit, How Do I Apply?

You need to fill out an application form (which can be downloaded from www.dec.wa.gov.au/nvp) and submit it to DEC. A permit from DEC authorising the clearing of native vegetation must be obtained prior to commencing clearing.

There are two types of clearing permits - an Area Permit and a Purpose Permit. In most private landholder cases, you will need to apply for an Area Permit.

Area Permits – are used when the applicant is the owner of the land or when the applicant is doing the clearing on behalf of the owner of the land and has written authority to do so. Area permits are for a defined area.

Purpose Permits – can be used when the applicant is not the owner of the land they wish to clear but have authority under a written law or permission to access the land to undertake clearing. Purpose permits are usually for clearing of different areas from time to time for a specified purpose.

Fill out the application form with as much detail as possible and follow all instructions. You will need to provide

supporting information, for example, a detailed map of the area you want to clear. There will be a fee payable to DEC for every application which ranges from $50-$200 depending on the size of the land to be cleared. 

I Have Submitted My Clearing Permit To DEC, What Next?

It may take a number of weeks for a decision to be made on your clearing permit application, depending on the nature and scale of your proposed clearing. Once received, your application will be assessed against the clearing principles in schedule 5 of the EP Act and DEC’s Chief Executive Officer will take into consideration any relevant planning and other matters prior to making a decision to grant or refuse a clearing permit. Your application will be assessed for impacts on a wide range of environmental issues including biodiversity, land degradation and water quality.

DEC is required to invite submissions on your application from interested parties. This can include local governments, other government agencies, community groups or others that may be impacted by a proposal to clear.

If a site visit is required, the DEC officer managing your application will contact you to request a time to visit your property and discuss your application.

The Chief Executive Officer of DEC will decide to either grant a permit (which may or may not be subject to conditions) or refuse a permit. A person who disagrees with the decision to grant a permit may lodge an appeal within 28 days.

What If I Clear Without A Permit?

The clearing of native vegetation in Western Australia is an offence under the EP Act. Unlawful clearing from individuals can result in fines of up to $250,000.

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Glossary of terms

Clearing

Section 51A of the EP Act defines clearing to mean the killing or destruction of, the removal of, the severing or ringbarking of trunks or stems of, or the doing of any other substantial damage to, some or all of the native vegetation in an area, and includes the draining or flooding of land, the burning of vegetation, the grazing of stock, or any other act or activity, that causes substantial damage to some or all of the native vegetation in an area.

Environmentally sensitive area (ESAs)

There are a number of areas around Western Australia of environmental significance within which the exemptions in the Clearing Regulations do not apply. These areas are referred to as environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs), and are declared under section 51B of the EP Act and described in the Environmental Protection (Environmentally Sensitive Areas) Notice 2005.

Landholder

The holder or proprietor of the land.

Native vegetation

Sections 3(1) and 51A of the EP Act define native vegetation as indigenous aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, including dead vegetation, and intentionally planted vegetation where established as a requirement of this or any other law or declared by regulation to be native vegetation. Regulation 4 of the Clearing Regulations further defines native vegetation to include intentionally planted vegetation established (wholly or partly) with funding by a third party for the purpose of biodiversity or land conservation, and intentionally planted vegetation protected by a covenant or other binding agreement to establish and/or maintain the vegetation, but does not include intentionally planted vegetation established as a plantation for commercial harvest.

Property

An area of land that is managed as a single property whether or not it is made up of a number of properties held under separate titles.

Road reserve

The road reserve includes the road and remnant vegetation up to adjacent property fencelines.

SEAVROC

South East Avon Voluntary Organisation of Councils (Shires of Beverley, Brookton, Cunderdin, Quairading and York)

Further reading

A number of useful fact sheets and guidelines on native vegetation clearing legislation, biodiversity, management and protection is available at www.dec.wa.gov.au/nvp.

References

Department of Environment and Conservation Western Australia, 2005, A Guide to Clearing Permits Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, viewed 31/3/2010 www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/

This document is provided for guidance only. It should not be relied upon to address every aspect of the relevant legislation.