This section provides an overview of the steps involved in preparing an application to the Native Vegetation Panel. The Native Vegetation Panel application process includes five stages.
Stage 1. Pre-lodgement
The pre-lodgement stage is the front end of the assessment process. If you get the front end right you are likely to have a simple application process. Giving the Native Vegetation Panel an assessment-ready application, with all required information will not ‘guarantee’ approval – however, it will promote an efficient process, saving time and money, for both you and the Panel.
The first step in preparing an application is to find out what legislation and policies apply to your landholding. This involves considering:
- Legislation and policy documents; and
- Scoping the proposal to highlight the relevant matters and impacts to be considered in the application and the appropriate level of assessment
Putting your team together
In preparing your application you may need the advice of specialists, depending on your site and your proposal. This will include a Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) Accredited Assessor and may also include people who are experienced in describing the social, economic and environmental impacts.
You can find experienced people by:
- Public register of BAM Accredited Assessors
- Searching at professional organisation websites.
Prior to lodging an application to the Native Vegetation Panel, we recommended that all applicants organise a pre-lodgement meeting with Local Land Services to discuss the proposed clearing and to obtain advice as to the level and type of information required to be submitted with the application. Preparing an assessment ready application will promote an efficient process for both applicants and the Panel.
Every application must contain a comprehensive description of the proposal and meet all legislative requirements. We recommend that applications are prepared by a suitably qualified and experienced person(s) including a Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) accredited assessor (in accordance with the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016). The Native Vegetation Panel will refer to section 60ZF of the Local Land Services Act 2013 when assessing the application so we encourage you to become familiar with the standards.
Complete an application form
You will need to complete an application form.
The application form must be signed by the landowner/s and by you as the applicant. If there is more than one landowner, every owner must sign. If the owner is a company or owners' association (body corporate), the application must be signed by an authorized person under seal.
Stage 2. Lodgement
You must submit your application to the Native Vegetation Panel with Local Land Services prior to any native vegetation clearing being undertaken. Retrospective applications will not be accepted by the Native Vegetation Panel. You can lodge your application over the counter at a Local Land Services Regional Office or by email at email@example.com. Your application must include the application form, application fee, and all relevant reports.
Stage 3. Assessment
All applications will be formally assessed by the Native Vegetation Panel who will consider the environmental, social and economic impacts of the proposed clearing in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development. The Native Vegetation Panel will also make the assessment with regard to the purpose for which the land is to be used after it is cleared. The assessment process potentially includes public notification, consultation, and site visits.
Step 4. Determination
Your application is intended to be determined within 90 days of being duly made. However, if insufficient information is provided with the initial application, the Native Vegetation Panel may decide to “stop the clock” to request further information from the applicant. Local Land Services provides a package of information to the Panel for consideration including an assessment report.
There are two possible outcomes for an application to remove native vegetation. Applications can be granted approval within conditions or refused with reasons. The Native Vegetation Panel will refuse to grant approval if the proposed clearing of native vegetation is likely to have serious and irreversible impacts on biodiversity values.
What can I do if I don’t like the Panel’s decision?
Modification of approval
If you wish to make changes to your approved plans (or the conditions), you can submit an application for a Modification of Approval (under section 60ZI of the Local Land Services Act 2013).
If the application varies too much from the original approval a new application must be lodged.
If the application is refused (or granted with unacceptable conditions), an applicant can commence an appeal to the Land and Environment Court. Applicants have six months to lodge an appeal.
Step 5. Post-Determination
Before you can start work
An approval by the Native Vegetation Panel does not authorise the clearing of native vegetation until any obligation under the approval to retire biodiversity credits has been complied with. You may also be required to obtain any other licences or approvals required under other legislation.
During vegetation removal works
As the landowner, your role is to work with any contactors, keeping an eye on the work (and the terms of your consent) and managing the site. Enforcement measures can be applied if vegetation removal is not done in accordance with its consent, costing time and money and potentially leading to penalties.
If you have any questions or are not sure if you require Native Vegetation Panel approval, you should contact Local Land Services on info 1300 795 299 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.