Clearing of native vegetation for development

Council needs to assess the impacts of your proposal in accordance with section 5A of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Any development that requires clearing of native vegetation must include an assessment of impacts on threatened species and ecological communities listed under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

We call this a Section 5A Flora and Fauna Assessment.  If your development will remove or disturb native habitat (e.g. native grasses, shrubs or trees) then it is likely that you will need a Flora and Fauna assessment.

Approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) may be required if clearing will impact on matters of national environmental significance such as threatened species listed under the EPBC Act.

Further details about legislation relating to threatened species and ecological communities listed under the NSW TSC Act can be found at NSW Government Environment & Heritage

Information on species and ecological communities listed under the Australian Government’s EPBC Act can be found at Australian Government Department of the Environment

For further information on Flora and Fauna Assessments see Threatened Species or call Council on 4429 3111. You will need to have your Lot and DP number available.

Clearing of native vegetation on non-urban land

If your application involves the clearing of native vegetation on non-urban land, you may need a separate approval under the Native Vegetation Act 2003, from South East NSW Local Land Services before you can commence your development. For further information see NSW Government Local Land Services

Understanding Native Vegetation and Clearing

What is Native Vegetation?


Native vegetation is defined under the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NV Act) as any of the following types of indigenous vegetation: trees, understorey plants, groundcover or wetland plants.

Indigenous vegetation is defined under the NV Act as a species of vegetation that existed in the State before European settlement.

Native vegetation is protected under the NV Act. Certain plant species and ecological communities are also protected under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act), National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 NP&W Act) and/or the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

What is clearing?


Clearing is defined under the NV Act as cutting down, felling, thinning, logging, removing, killing, destroying, poisoning, ringbarking, uprooting or burning native vegetation.

What controls apply to clearing?


Clearing in urban and rural areas is controlled by different legislation.

Clearing of native and certain exotic vegetation in urban areas (Residential, Business or Commercial zones) is controlled by Clause 5.9 of the Shoalhaven Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2014.   This clause triggers the Tree Removal and Amenity DCP 128.

Clearing of native vegetation in non-urban areas requires approval under the NV Act and is controlled by the Local Land Services (LLS). Under the NV Act, native vegetation must not be cleared except in accordance with a development consent granted in accordance with the Act or a property vegetation plan unless the clearing is permitted without approval or is exempt – see NSW Government Environment and Heritage

Approval for clearing in both urban and rural areas may be required by the relevant determining authority (Council, Director-General or Minister) under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) if threatened species (flora or fauna), populations or ecological communities or their habitats may be impacted. Approval under the EPBC Act may be required if clearing will impact on matters of national environmental significance such as threatened species listed under the EPBC Act. Further details about legislation relating to threatened species listed under the TSC Act can be found at NSW Government Environment & Heritage . Information on species and ecological communities listed under the EPBC Act can be found at Australian Government Department of the Environment

What penalties apply for illegally clearing vegetation?

People who clear trees and other vegetation without approval can face significant fines. People who illegally clear in areas covered by the Native Vegetation Act 2003 can face penalties of up to $1,100,000. Under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 it is an offence to harm or pick threatened species, populations or endangered ecological communities. The criminal prosecution penalty for harming species, populations or endangered ecological communities is up to $220,000 or two years in prison or both.

Penalties for clearing threatened species, populations or ecological communities listed under the EPBC Act 1999 are up to $550,000 for an individual and $5.5 million for a body corporate, or a criminal penalty of seven years imprisonment and/or a penalty of $46,200.

When do I need approval for clearing native vegetation?

A Tree Removal Permit from Council is required to remove or prune tree/s on land:      

a. Where the tree in question is a Toona australis (Red Cedar)
b. Where the tree contains a hollow or hollows
c. Subject to a development consent condition or Section 88B restriction-as-to-user that prohibits tree clearing or removal of the
    tree in question
d. Where the tree or the land it is on is a heritage item or in a heritage conservation area
e. That was originally part of the ‘paper subdivision’ deposited plans listed n Schedule 2 i) of the Shoalhaven Tree Preservation
    Order that was in force prior to commencement of Shoalhaven LEP 2014; or      
f. 20 metres from the bank of a creek or water body deemed Category 1 (large creek/river)
g. Which is verified as supporting an Endangered Ecological Community
h. Mapped as supporting rainforest vegetation species      
I. Mapped on the scenic preservation overlay of LEP 2013  
j. Zoned residential, business or commercial  
k. Within 30 metres from a rural road boundary

Some exemptions do apply.

Approval to clear native vegetation in Non Urban Zones (Environmental Zones, Rural and R5 Zones) must be sought from South East Local Land Services (LLS) You can check whether you require approval at NSW Government Environment & Heritage 

Contact Us

(02) 4429 3111
council@shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au
P.O. Box 42, Nowra NSW 2541 Australia
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