Many people choose to live within the Shire to enjoy the natural environment and wildlife. To preserve the landscape and biodiversity for current and future residents to enjoy, there are rules protecting creeklines, native vegetation, and habitat trees under the Shire's Local Planning Scheme No. 4.
A habitat tree is a native tree, dead or alive, with a hollow or substantial trunk diameter. Trees with a diameter over 50cm may be protected under state and federal legislation, as habitat for threatened species such as black cockatoos. Where there are many potential habitat trees on a site, the Shire prioritises the mapping and protection of trees with a diameter of 80cm or greater.
Planning approval for clearing or development
Most development affecting the natural environment will require planning approval. However there are specific exemptions for certain types of work (e.g. installing perimeter firebreaks to comply with bushfire requirements) or for smaller lots, where retaining bushland is not practical.
If you are unsure whether your plans will require formal planning approval, it is best to contact the Shire's Planning and Environment Service on 9290 6740. Clearing native vegetation or modifying watercourses without approval may be an offence under the Planning and Development Act 2005 and other legislation.
You can request a Shire Environmental
Asset Inspection to identify key environmental features on site, before paying for surveys or drawing up detailed plans. If you are building a house in a bushfire prone area, the Environmental Officer can usually arrange to be on site at the same time as you and your Bushfire Consultant to ensure clear communication and avoid revising plans.
Planning application forms (and Keeping of Stock management questionnaire) are available from the Planning Service section.
State Government permits and approvals
Some work may require State Government approvals as well as local government planning approvals. Clearing of native vegetation may require a clearing permit from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER).
Works in or near a watercourse (creekline or wetland area) may require a beds and banks permit from DWER. Clearing or development that affects protected native species, or the Helena River floodplain, may require separate approvals from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
Federal Government approvals
Clearing of federally protected habitats (including banksia woodlands and black-cockatoo habitat trees) may require referral to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.