Law Reform ·

Recent legislative changes

06 June, 2013

Queensland Law ReformThe Queensland Government has released their draft State Planning Policy for public comment until the 12th of June. The single policy is intended to replace all existing policies. The draft SPP identifies the state's interests in planning and development and how these are to be dealt with in planning instruments, council development assessment processes and in designating land for community infrastructure. A copy of the draft SPP and details on how to provide feedback is located at...........

The Queensland Government has released their draft State Planning Policy for public comment until the 12th of June. The single policy is intended to replace all existing policies. The draft SPP identifies the state's interests in planning and development and how these are to be dealt with in planning instruments, council development assessment processes and in designating land for community infrastructure. A copy of the draft SPP and details on how to provide feedback is located at www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/spp.

Queensland Government has proposed changes with the potential to impact upon wildlife protection. The Agriculture & Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 proposes to amend the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 by repealing the provisions requiring mandatory registration of cats throughout Queensland. Under the new provisions cat registration will not be mandatory unless a local government makes a local law requiring cats to be registered – per s9 amendment. The EDO proposes that this constitutes an alarming legislative development as local governments, particularly small rural local governments, may not possess the resources or funds to effectively manage their own mandatory cat registration schemes. Subsequently cat registration may be abandoned leading to an increase in the number of feral cats which are a major threat to native fauna, particularly birds. Public Submissions regarding the proposed changes close on Friday, 5 July 2013. For more information about the bill and submissions refer to the Queensland Parliament Website.

The Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Act 2013 (‘VMFA 2013’) was passed on 21 May 2013. The amendments are likely to take effect later in 2013. The VMFA 2013 makes substantial changes to the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) and the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld) concerning vegetation management. The main changes are:

  • the introduction of self-assessable vegetation clearing codes which will allow clearing for pests and weeds, fodder, relevant infrastructure, extractive industries and other purposes. Provided landholders comply with these codes no clearing permit from the Government will be required.
  • the removal of the ‘guide for deciding penalty for vegetation clearing offence’ from the VMA so that the Court will no longer have a prescriptive guide for deciding what penalty to impose on a person for a vegetation clearing offence based on the size and type of vegetation cleared;
  • the reversal of the onus of proof provision so that all elements of the illegal clearing must be proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution;
  • the amendment of provisions so that making an honest mistake of fact is a defence to clearing.

The Land, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (Qld) (‘LWOLA 2013’) was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 2 May 2013 although some provisions are yet to formally commence. LWOLA 2013 makes a number of changes to land and water legislation including a number of changes to the Water Act 2000 (Qld):

  • the removal of the requirement for a riverine protection permit to destroy vegetation in a watercourse or spring. A permit to clear vegetation may still be required under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld) although an exemption currently exists to allow the clearing of an area of vegetation (less than 0.5 ha) in a watercourse, lake or spring where the clearing is a necessary and unavoidable part of excavating or placing fill in a watercourse;
  • the removal of the requirement for a resource company to obtain a water licence for diverting a watercourse. Authorisation need now only be obtained under the Environmental Authority for the resource activities issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld);
  • the removal of the requirement for a resource company to obtain a water licence to supply coal seam gas water to another landholder whose land does not overlap the tenure. Environmental impacts are to be dealt with in the Environmental Authority for the operation issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld).

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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