As at the 1st August 2014 laws came into place which help people prepare their homes for bush fires in NSW. The legislation has recently been updated after a review.
The laws allow people in a designated 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area to:
- Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking approval; and
- Clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval.
Image from RFS Site.
What does this mean in simple terms?
- If you live in a designated 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area you can remove or clear trees within 10 meters of a home and shrubs within 50 meters of your home without the seeking approval from council for Bushfire Protection.
- There may be restrictions if your property is on a slope greater than 18 degrees (approximately 1 meter rise over 3 meters). Forms part of a world/state/local heritage. Contains certain critically endangered Ecological Communities, critically endangered plants.
- The rules apply to both private and public land however clearing can only be done if you are the landowner or have consent from the landowner.
- It is entitlement to clear vegetation if you are in a 10/50 zone but not a requirement. You can seek the advice of the RFS regarding fire hazard management.
- If you are seeking to remove vegetation on a neighbouring property that falls within 10 meters or 50 meters of your property you require the consent of the owner as well as check that their property is also within the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area. If the tree is located on your property within 10 metres of the neighbours house (they are inside the entitlement area), their written permission is required.
- The new laws apply to buildings containing habitable rooms such as homes, tourist or vistor centre, caravans in caravan parks as well as schools, childcare centres and hospitals (not tertiary institutions such as universities or TAFE).
- The measurement is taken from the external walls of the building, but does not include non combustible exempt developments such as decks.
- Clearing does not allow for burning the vegetation you clear or to use mechanical means such as excavators which can disturb the top soil layer.
- Does not overrule court orders, DA conditions or covenants under Section 88B of the conveyancing Act 1919. Lawful occupancy required. The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice definition of ‘habitable rooms’ be amended to specify that it only applies to a building containing habitable rooms that has a lawful authority for occupancy for those rooms
A few more things to consider!
- Any pruning that is undertaken must be in accordance with AS 4373-2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees . This is the Australian Standard for tree pruning.
- If the trunk of the tree is more than 10 meters from the building you may clear branches within 10 meters of the building. This type of pruning must conform with the Australian Standard and pruning of branches outside the 10 meters may require council permission.
- If your property is on a slope of more than 18 degrees, pruning can only be done if 75% or more of the canopy is retained.
- You can not clear any vegetation within 10 meters of a Prescribed Stream
- You do not need to consider threatened species or ecological communities.
- You need to be sure that all clearing does not contravene the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) as this is a Commonwealth Law. Commonwealth laws sit above State Laws.
- It is your responsibility to ensure that tree removal or pruning is undertaken safely and therefore advisable that you engage the services of a reputable tree services provider.
- It is recommended that you use the services of a reputable tree service provider that not only has appropriate insurance but is also able to show you certificates of currency.
- Contractors undertaking this work should have a qualification from a tertiary institution such as TAFE or University as it is a hazardous occupation and you want to ensure that the people doing the work have had appropriate training. Reputable firms will be happy to provide these type of documents.
- It may be tempting to opt for the cheapest quote but be sure that all of the above is covered as you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where someone gets hurt on your site or there is damage to your property that may not be covered by your home insurance.
Our staff are very familiar with the new regulations and we have had communication with the various authorities to ensure we are up to date with the requirements. If you require any further information contact our office or send us an email. We will get back you within 24 hours.