11 Aug Amendment to The Vegetation Exemptions for Bushfire Protection
Clause 52.12 provides bushfire protection exemptions to properties throughout Victoria to facilitate the provision of defendable space around buildings used for accommodation. This Clause was introduced in response to the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission and allowed for vegetation removal within certain parameters to occur without the need for a planning permit. For some Council areas the vegetation removal could only occur if the land was within a Bushfire Management Overlay, but for other municipalities it could occur on all land provided all requirements were met.
On the 5th August the State Government introduced changes to Clause 52.12 of all Planning Schemes. The changes to this Clause are in response to the completion of bushfire hazard mapping across the whole of the State. The Clause has been updated to remove exclusions from some municipalities. It now allows for vegetation to be removed where an accommodation building is built within an area designated as bushfire prone under the Building Act 1993, and the building was built or approved prior to the specified date. The controls now also allow 1m of vegetation to be cleared along a fenceline, if 4m has been cleared on the other side.
Specifically the new exemptions are as follows:
Exemption to create defendable space around buildings used for accommodation
A planning permit is not required to remove or lop any vegetation within 10m of an existing building, or to remove vegetation other than trees within 30m of an existing building, as long as all of these conditions are met:
- The property must be located within a bushfire prone area under the Building Act 1993.
- The building must have been constructed before 10 September 2009, or approved for construction before that date; or
- The building be a replacement building that was damaged or destroyed by a bushfire between 1 January 2009 and 31 March 2009.
Additionally, if a property is located within a Bushfire Management Overlay, removal of vegetation other than trees within the extended range of 50m is allowed. To meet this exemption the building or approval dates as specified in the Clause must be met.
Exemption for vegetation removal along a fenceline
A planning permit is not required to remove vegetation along a fenceline, provided that all of these conditions are met:
- The fence must be located within a bushfire prone area under the Building Act 1993.
- The fence must have been constructed before 10 September 2009.
- The clearing alongside both sides of the fence when combined must be a maximum of 4m in width, except if land on one side has already been cleared 4 metres, and then the other side can be cleared up to 1m from the fence.
Exemption to create defendable space for a dwelling
The exemption for creating defendable space for a dwelling under the Bushfire Management Overlay (Clause 44.06) has also been amended. It has been expanded to apply for both a new dwelling as well as alterations or extensions of an existing dwelling. The exemption has also been updated to clarify that no permit is required to remove vegetation for a dwelling or dwelling extension/alteration, or the creation of defendable space when approved under the Bushfire Management Overlay. This exemption only applies to land within certain zones include the Residential Zones, the Farming Zone and the Rural Living Zone.
The changes line up with the bushfire hazard mapping and apply a consistent control across the whole of the state. This provides certainty for all property owners and ensures that existing properties in bushfire prone areas will continue to be able to reasonably manage vegetation without the hindrance of requiring a planning permit. Now that the bushfire hazard mapping has been complete it also ensures that all relevant properties requiring bushfire protection have been identified.