Most people are unaware that vegetation on their land is often protected by certain legislation. Therefore, if you do not have authorisation to remove vegetation and do so anyway, this could result in significant fines being issued either by the State or Federal government.
Vegetation clearing laws are quite complex and failure to comply with the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) can be costly in certain situation. For example, in March 2017 a Queensland rural landowner was fined almost $1,000,000 for clearing 350 hectares of native vegetation on his rural property without gaining authorization first.
Although these laws mostly affect persons living in rural areas where vegetation is more relevant, these laws also apply to suburban and domestic areas. In addition to the obligations provided for under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld), persons in suburbia need to be aware of the additional tree clearing approvals which may be required under Commonwealth, State and local laws which are often overlooked.
Penalties for Breach
The penalties for clearing vegetation without authorisation can be very expensive, and, issued on a “per offence” bases. This means, if a landowner were to clear a small section of trees from the property without a tree-clearing permit, the fines could quickly escalate for every tree cut. This would lead the person being subject to huge penalties for clearing what might otherwise be a relatively small parcel of land. In addition to monetary fines, the government may also demand the vegetation be restored to the previous state.
The relevant process for lawful clearing of plant and vegetation on a property will depend on which legislative triggers and mapping overlays apply to the property. Importantly, multiple approvals under separate laws may be required for the same proposed clearing. If you are unsure whether your proposed clearing activities are lawful, seek legal advice before any process commences.