Farmers have demonstrated long-term commitment to on-farm revegetation.
The planning system that supports this commitment must be simple, fair and cost effective.
It shouldn’t cost a farmer $30,000-$50,000 to remove a small number of trees that are impacting on-farm viability, utilisation of environmentally superior technology and on-farm safety.
Critical changes that need to be implemented with a reform package include the introduction of an exemption from notice and appeal (in farming zones).
The waiving of assessment fees in the farming zone where removal is necessary for implementation of farm technology or safety is also needed, along with a commitment to the preparation of landscape level documents for incorporation as native vegetation planning permits.
These actions are critical in achieving a fair system where the only permit trigger is native vegetation removal.
It reflects that there is no change in use or development occurring on the site.
It also ensures that good applications are rewarded by a certainty in timing, process and cost.
At the Victorian Farmers Federation, we are committed to working together to ensure the framework in place embodies the principles of SMART planning.
An outcome that is good for the economy, agriculture and the environment.
We want to see a framework that allows Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning officers to prepare reports (in farming zones) rather than hired ecologists.
We also want a framework that maintains or increases the 15 tree per one hectare pathway trigger.
And one that removes the third party notice and appeals rights in rural zones.
Finally, we want a planning framework which ensures that environmental significant overlays are based on detailed mapping and are fit-for-purpose with full landholder consultation.
The recent case involving the Rich family only proved that the current system is broken.
We need a system that works with commercial agriculture.
One which farmers can easily navigate, is cost effective for agricultural production and provides environmental outcomes.