Development approvals for clearing native vegetation
If your proposed clearing activity is not permitted under other clearing options, you may be able to clear under a development approval for operational works, material change of use or reconfiguring a lot.
Clearing for a relevant purpose
The vegetation management laws only allow development applications to be made for the following purposes:
- a project declared to be a coordinated project under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971, section 26
- the necessary control of non-native plants or declared pests
- ensuring public safety
- establishing a necessary fence, firebreak, road or vehicular track, or constructing necessary built infrastructure, and the clearing for the relevant infrastructure cannot reasonably be avoided or minimised
- a natural and ordinary consequence of other assessable development for which a development approval was given under the repealed Integrated Planning Act 1997, or a development application was made under that Act, before 16 May 2003
- fodder harvesting
- managing thickened vegetation
- clearing of encroachment
- an extractive industry
- a special Indigenous purpose under the Cape York Peninsula Heritage Act 2007
- necessary environmental clearing.
Relevant purpose determination
Operational works and material change of use
Before you make a development application for operational works or a material change of use, you will need to obtain a relevant purpose determination.
To apply, complete the relevant purpose determination application form (PDF, 479KB). You can lodge the form and supporting documents in person or by mail to any of our business centres. There is no application fee.
If your application is to manage thickened vegetation, the following resources may be useful:
- Video guide for transects / plots for measuring tree density
- Transect / plot field sheet for measuring tree density in coastal bioregions and subregions – example (PDF, 35KB)
- Transect / plot field sheet for measuring tree density in non-coastal bioregions and subregions – example (PDF, 40KB)
- Guidance for estimating canopy cover of low shrubs (PDF, 275KB)
For further information call 135 VEG (135 834).
Reconfiguring a lot
You do not need to apply for a relevant purpose determination if your development application is to reconfigure a lot.
How to apply for a development approval
Before lodging a development application, you should contact us to discuss the purpose of your clearing and whether a relevant purpose determination is required.
If a relevant purpose determination is not required, the next step is to contact State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA). They will provide information about:
- the assessment process for operational works
- applications for a material change of use or reconfiguring a lot
- applications eligible for FastTrack5 assessment
- requirements and fees
- arranging a pre-lodgement meeting.
When you submit your development application to SARA, it will be assessed against the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP): State code 16: Native vegetation clearing. The SDAP guidance material for State code 16: Clearing native vegetation (PDF, 1.6MB) provides guidance on the information required and the resources available to you for preparing a development application.
If you are undertaking a coordinated project which involves clearing for agriculture, the Guidelines for coordinated projects involving clearing for agriculture (land suitability) (PDF, 610KB) will help you identify the information you need to provide to demonstrate that the land is suitable for the proposed agriculture.
If you are undertaking clearing to manage thickened vegetation, you may be eligible to apply for a development approval under the SARA fast track assessment process. Read more about the requirements in the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP).
Compiling an environmental report for your vegetation management application
You may be required to provide a range of environmental information in support of your vegetation management application.
Depending on requirements, you may be able to gather the information yourself, or you can hire an environmental or planning consultant to do the work for you.
In some cases, vegetation offsets can be used to compensate for environmental values lost through development. The current requirements for vegetation offsets are available in the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP): State code 16: Native vegetation clearing.
Read about voluntary declarations to legally secure vegetation offsets or significant beneficial outcomes.
- Guide to voluntary declarations under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (PDF, 1.0MB)
- Request for a voluntary declaration (PDF, 105KB)
- State Policy for Vegetation Management (PDF, 281KB)
- Read about protected plants.
- Read about koala protections.
- Find out more about obtaining approval to clear native vegetation.