Under the Victorian Planning Scheme a planning permit is usually required to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation on properties over 0.4 ha.
Landholders must apply for a planning permit from their local council. A permit, if granted, may require evidence of a native vegetation offset before the vegetation is removed. These offsets can be obtained through purchase from a third party via an accredited offset broker or in some cases may be secured on the same land where the vegetation removal is occurring, a first party offset.
The DELWP Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (the Guidelines) are incorporated into all Victorian planning schemes.
The Guidelines set out what must be included in an application to remove native vegetation, how an application is assessed, and what can be an offset.
To achieve this, the Framework sets out a three tiered approach:
- To avoid adverse impact, particularly through native vegetation removal
- If impact cannot be avoided, then it should be minimised through appropriate planning and design. If that is not possible, appropriate offset options must be identified.
- Land used to offset the decline in native vegetation through development must boast ‘like for like’ features to achieve an overall increase in the quality and quantity of native vegetation. The offset needs to be secure and ongoing and 10 Year Management Plans are put in place for each individual offset property to ensure this happens.
The Net Gain Target for those requiring an offset is calculated using a guide developed by DSE which quantifies the Habitat Hectare and conservation value of the native vegetation being lost and determines and quantifies the required Gains relative to the conservation value of the impacted vegetation.
Land Owners who offer land as offsets are compensated for limitations on the use of their land and they receive a separate payment to improve and maintain native vegetation to meet the requirements of 10 Year Management Plans.