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Bush bash

INVERLOCH’S prized bush could be at risk and Bass Coast Shire Council would not even know.
Nor would council have the power to act.
Council has no information about the amount of vegetation removed by homeowners in Inverloch since a State Government ruling allowed homeowners to clear vegetation within 10m of homes constructed before September 2008 and on fencelines, to reduce bushfire risk.
Homeowners clearing vegetation under that law do not have to obtain permission from council.
That amount of clearing possibly occurring worries council, given Inverloch continues to attract new residents and many new homes are being built.
Jodi Kennedy, council’s manager of strategic planning and development, said, “Council is concerned about the impact the exemption provision is having on our environment and continues to advocate to the State Government for a review of the current controls, in order to strike a balance between the need to protect life and the need to also protect our environment.
“In relation to the amount of vegetation being removed, as a result of the 10/30 rule (defendable space), landowners don’t have to report these activities.
“Therefore we are unable to quantify the amount of vegetation removal that has occurred under these State Government controls, which allow vegetation removal in the prescribed defendable space without the need for a planning permit.”
South Gippsland Conservation Society president Dave Sutton said the group had been concerned about the 10/30 rule for many years.
“We support it being removed because we are losing a lot of vegetation and the trend is to build bigger and bigger houses,” he said.
Mr Sutton said larger blocks in Fern Street, Ebor Avenue and Overlook Drive were being subdivided, resulting in the loss of many trees.
Such is the loss of vegetation in Inverloch over the years, the conservation society has abandoned its koala monitoring group due to inadequate koala numbers in town. A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said, “The Victorian Government is aware of concerns about native vegetation being cleared under these provisions in areas that are not in an area of bushfire risk.
“A review of the provisions is currently being considered to ensure vegetation is only cleared in areas at risk of bushfire.”
In 2016-17, council issued eight permits for native vegetation removal in Inverloch, down from 25 permits in 2011-12.
Council said this reduction was largely due to the implementation of exemptions into the Planning Scheme in 2015 under the 10/30 rule.
Asked if any of the vegetation being removed was being offset by other plantings, Ms Kennedy said, “If a planning permit is required for the removal of vegetation, conditions are placed on the permit requiring a landscape plan to be provided that specifies the amount of planting and type of species that need to be included.
“In addition, council’s compliance and enforcement officer undertakes an audit of vegetation permits every 12 months.”
The Star asked a council spokesperson for statistics about planning permits issued for new houses and house extensions in Inverloch, particularly those requiring vegetation removal.
The spokesperson said council’s current system does not provide the ability to extract that information.

Growing town: an aerial view of Inverloch showing the mix of housing and vegetation. Photo by Black and White Real Estate Marketing (BWRM).

Short URL: https://thestar.com.au/?p=22769

Posted by on Oct 10 2017. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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