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The Victorian Government has announced changes to the regulatory framework governing the clearing of native vegetation in Victoria. The changes are due to take effect from September 2013. The changes represent a substantial retreat in the ambition and effectiveness of rules relating to habitat protection.

The EDO’s briefing paper provides an overview of the regulatory framework of the new scheme.

The reforms make significant changes to the intent, coverage and process of native vegetation clearing controls. The change of emphasis is clearly demonstrated by the change in name of the scheme from the ‘native vegetation management framework’ to the ‘permitted clearing of native vegetation’. In fact, clearing will be so permitted that virtually nothing will be impermissible – at least for cost or, in the worst cases, where there is some effort to  ‘minimise’ the impacts of clearing (plus the cost of offsetting the damage). In practice, these rules may well become the ‘charge for clearing’ rules.

This paper covers:

  • the structure of the new arrangements
  • the objectives and purposes
  • the ‘risk-based’ approach to decision-making
  • how the new framework facilitates clearing
  • the structure of offset rules
  • the alternative arrangements for native vegetation management and clearing, and
  • the uncertainty ahead.