Vegetation re­moval frame­work ‘isn’t fair’

Shepparton News - Country News - - GRASSLAND CONFERENCE -

The VFF has called on the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment to en­sure guide­lines for the re­moval of na­tive vegetation can be easily nav­i­gated by farm­ers to avoid costly de­ci­sions.

The calls come af­ter Stephen Rich, a crop­ping farmer from Kaniva, 300 km north-west of Bal­larat, won a three-year Vic­to­rian Civil and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal case to cut down 25 trees on his prop­erty to al­low ma­chin­ery to en­ter his pad­dock.

The bat­tle be­gan af­ter sev­eral res­i­dents claimed cut­ting down the trees would threaten bio­di­ver­sity and ruin the ru­ral views in the area.

VFF pres­i­dent David Jochinke says the cur­rent guide­lines cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion that ‘‘isn’t fair’’.

‘‘It shouldn’t cost a farmer $30 000 to $50 000 to re­move a small num­ber of trees that are im­pact­ing on farm vi­a­bil­ity, util­i­sa­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tally su­pe­rior tech­nol­ogy and on farm safety,’’ Mr Jochinke said.

‘‘It isn’t fair that a farmer, who is not chang­ing a use or build­ing any­thing, but wants to up­grade ma­chin­ery which is safer and more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly faces the same re­quire­ments as a de­vel­oper who is re­zon­ing land and un­der­tak­ing ma­jor changes to use and de­vel­op­ment.’’

The VFF wants the gov­ern­ment to en­sure the main­te­nance of the cur­rent 1 ha pathway, re­move third party no­tice and ap­peal rights in ru­ral zones, re­duce the per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion fees and al­low for ecological as­sess­ments to be un­der­taken by DELWP staff.

A group of western Vic­to­rian farm­ers, in­clud­ing the Rich fam­ily, has met with se­nior DELWP of­fi­cials and the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter to gain bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of ‘on the ground’ im­pacts of the cur­rent frame­work.

The group also discussed ac­tions DELWP could take to make the sys­tem fairer.

In­tense and fas­ci­nat­ing . . .

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