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Redland City Council 2018 Environmental Significance Overlay

Thursday, December 27, 2018 - 07:33

The topic of our previous blog was the new Redland City Planning Scheme 2018 City Plan which commenced on 8th October 2018. In this we mentioned that there were some challenges with respect to vegetation clearing and the Environmental Significance overlay.

What we have now come to understand is that whilst council has stated that there is an “allowed” amount of clearing, what hasn’t been well publicised or understood is that this really isn’t the case. In effect the policy creates a blanket ban on any vegetation clearing in this overlay area. Any “allowed” clearing must be “offset” by an equivalent amount of replanting elsewhere on the site – it’s called “compensatory replanting”.

Where this cannot be achieved offsets will be required to be made under the Environmental Offsets Act (EOA). The EOA has its own policy and calculator which has an offset amount of $230,000 per hectare! So taking into account the area required for a new house, an access driveway, and any fence clearing that amounted to let’s say 2,500m2, would cost $57,500 in offsets!!!!

The hidden aspect of this overlay is that it can kick in without you even knowing it. If a development triggers a planning application you will be made aware of these matters, however, if you are building a house, which is otherwise accepted development (meaning no council approval is required), the building certifier can issue their approval. Previously under Local Law you could clear any trees as necessary to make way for the newly approved house. Unfortunately under the new scheme, the first you might learn of this requirement is when you are hit with a breach notice, which could be many years after the house is built!

This was not well discussed or publicised by council before the new planning scheme commenced. There is an attempt to recognise some exempt clearing allowed by the state government (Planning Regulation, Schedule 21, Part 1), however the particular list that council has adopted includes things almost never likely to happen in the Redlands and certainly excludes the most common thing like building a new house! Maybe this was a mistake on the part of the drafters and maybe not. If it was this needs to be urgently corrected.

So beware and check if your property, or the one you are thinking of buying, is included in the Environmental Significance overlay which covers about half of the Redland City area. If it is you should then seriously consider this blanket ban on clearing any native vegetation or at least the cost of offsets to do the clearing. There may be a way to get an approval without the offsets but only in the next 12 months.

It should be noted that clearing for a fire break might not be captured by the planning scheme but we are urgently seeking advice on this from council.

If you’re unsure and need further advice regarding this or any other planning matter please contact us at East Coast Surveys and we will gladly assist you.

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