Clearing of Category X vegetation does not require approval under Central Highlands Regional Council’s planning scheme.
In May, the Queensland Court of Appeal ruled that clearing of Category X land, described as exempt areas on state vegetation maps, may require a development permit under local council planning schemes.
The rule was upheld in a decision by the High Court as recently as September in a case involving Moreton Bay Regional Council.
Central Highlands Regional Council Manager Planning and Environment Kirstin Byrne said there were no plans to put additional local restrictions on vegetation clearing in relation to the rule in the Central Highlands.
‘Articles in the media had caused concerns amongst landholders in the Central Highlands who understood this ruling would apply as a broad-brush approach across all local governments,’ Ms Byrne said.
‘This is not the case and the Central Highlands Regional Council planning scheme does not regulate vegetation clearing as an operational works permit.
‘Hence landholders should be guided by the state government Vegetation Management Act only when it comes to vegetation clearing.’
Ms Byrne said there were two ways that may restrict vegetation clearing under council’s planning scheme and these previously existed, unrelated to the recent ruling.
‘Developments like reconfiguring a lot, material change of use or operational works engineering or excavating and filling require assessment and permission under council’s planning scheme,’ she said.
‘When these developments are assessed for flood risk and the impact they may have on biodiversity, clearing of Category X vegetation may be restricted coincidentally.
‘This has been the case since council’s planning scheme came into effect in 2016 and is unrelated to the court appeal.’
Specifically, this restriction relates to two of the planning scheme’s overlay codes used to assess developments, the flood hazards overlay code and biodiversity areas, waterways and wetlands overlay code.
Under the Queensland Government Vegetation Management Act, clearing Category X vegetation is accepted development on freehold land and leasehold land for agricultural and grazing purposes. Therefore, it does not require notification or permit under that Act.
More information on vegetation management is available on the Queensland Government website.
More information on planning and development, including the Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016 is available on council’s website.