There are planning permit exemptions in Victoria's planning schemes so you can manage vegetation (plant growth) around your property for bushfire protection.

Even if you’re exempt, you’ll need to consider the risk of erosion and landslip that can be caused by clearing vegetation.

Often you need a planning permit if you want to remove vegetation from your property. The 10/30 rule and the 10/50 rule are exemptions  that allow you to clear vegetation to help protect your property from bushfires without a planning permit.AN39 cover

The rules only apply to buildings and fences built before certain dates.

For more information and an explanation of the rules see Advisory note 39: Amendment VC83 – Bushfire protection: Vegetation exemptions, November 2011 (PDF, 775.1 KB) or (DOC, 63.0 KB).

If the 10/30 and the 10/50 rules don’t apply to your property, a separate planning permit exemption exists so that you can clear a defendable space for your home or extensions to your home (Clause 52.48-5 of your planning scheme).

The exemption only applies if your land is in the:

  • General Residential Zone
  • Residential Growth Zone
  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone
  • Urban Growth Zone
  • Low Density Residential Zone
  • Township Zone
  • Rural Living Zone
  • Farming Zone or
  • Rural Activity Zone.

If the planning permit exemption applies and a planning permit has been issued under the Bushfire Management Overlay, you don’t need further planning permission to remove, destroy or lop vegetation in the defendable space approved in the permit and/or shown on the endorsed plans.

If the permit exemption in Clause 52.48-5 doesn’t apply to your property, you’ll need to apply for a planning permit before you clear vegetation. The responsible authority (usually your council) will take bushfire management and any relevant vegetation-related planning rules into consideration when they assess your application .

Development within the Bushfire Management Overlay

Some development within the Bushfire Management Overlay – including extensions and alterations to existing dwellings that are less than 50% of the existing floor area -  may not require planning permission.  Even if you don’t need a planning permit, you’ll need a building permit.

If you’re exempt from requesting a planning permit and a building permit has been issued by the relevant building surveyor, you don’t need further planning permission to remove, destroy or lop vegetation that doesn’t exceed the distance shown on Table 1 in Clause 52.47-4 of the planning scheme.

Landowners can clear specified widths along fences for bushfire protection.

A maximum combined width of four metres of vegetation can be removed along an existing property boundary fence.

More information about these planning permit exemptions is provided in
Advisory note 39: Amendment VC83 – Bushfire protection: Vegetation exemptions, November 2011 (PDF, 775.1 KB) or (DOC, 63.0 KB).

A bushfire planning permit exemption for roadside vegetation management (Clause 52 .17-6 (PDF, 69.9 KB)) simplifies the process for road managers to better manage native vegetation on roadsides.

For more information refer to the Country Fire Authority website or native vegetation exemptions.

Vegetation plays an important role in reducing erosion and stabilising soil to minimise the risk of landslip. While you can remove some vegetation around a house for bushfire protection without council approval to create defendable space, you should consider landslip and erosion risk before you do.

Landslip

A landslip can happen when the ground isn’t strong enough to support its own weight, causing a slope to collapse. Land slippage can result in significant damage to buildings and is a risk to life, both on and below the landslip area. The removal of vegetation, particularly deep-rooted, long lasting trees, and plants that have a large root system, can increase landslip risk.

Erosion

Erosion happens when soil is lost through:

  • rain;
  • wind; or
  • the repeated movement of people /animals / vehicles.

In dry periods erosion can cause dust problems. During and after a lot of rain, erosion can lead to blocked drains, damaged pumps and damaged stream systems by clouding the water and smothering habitat. Topsoil lost through erosion reduces soil fertility and makes it difficult for grass or other vegetation to regrow.

Identify landslip and erosion risk

Some areas prone to landslip or erosion are identified in planning schemes by the Erosion Management Overlay. You can check if an Erosion Management Overlay applies to your land by obtaining a Planning Property Report. Not all areas that are prone to landslip or erosion are covered by the Erosion Management Overlay; for more information about the risk in your area contact your local council.

More information

More information about landslip and erosion.

Understanding your bushfire risk and about preparing your property for bushfire: CFA website or the Victorian Bushfire Information Hotline on 1800 240 667