Do I need a permit to clear vegetation?

If you want to clear vegetation from your property you may need a planning permit.  

Specific exemptions apply in clause 52.12 of Victorian planning schemes that allow you to clear vegetation around your property to create or maintain defendable space for bushfire protection without a planning permit.

Drawing showing a house with driveway and shed in a rural setting with some trees and hills behind

The vegetation rules are outlined below.

These rules give certainty to landowners and residents in areas where there is a bushfire hazard so that vegetation can be maintained in a fire-ready condition.

If the exemptions do not apply to your land a permit may be required to clear vegetation.  For information about planning permit requirements to clear vegetation contact your local council.

Overview and defendable space

The exemptions apply to both native and non-native vegetation.

Defendable space is an area of land around a building where vegetation (fuel) is modified and managed to reduce the effects of bushfire attack.

Defendable space breaks up and reduces the amount of fuel available to burn during a bushfire and separates the bushfire hazard/fuel (e.g. vegetation, flammable material) from a building.  It helps create a more fire-ready property.

The rules

Drawing showing clearing vegetation distances from a house

View diagrams on where the rules apply

Before you clear vegetation you should check if the rules apply to your property.

You can create a free planning property report from VicPlan, the Victorian Government online planning maps.  This will tell you if your property is in a bushfire prone area, Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) and what zone and other overlays apply.

Information on using VicPlan

This exemption only applies to buildings located in an area that is designated as a bushfire prone area under the Building Act 1993 and that are used for accommodation, such as a house.  The building must also be built before a certain date (link to content draw).  

It allows landowners and residents to clear any vegetation:

  • within 10m of an existing building
  • other than trees within 30m of an existing building.

More about the 10/30 rule

This exemption only applies to buildings located in the BMO and that are used for accommodation, such as a house.  The building must also be built before a certain date (link to content draw).  

It allows a landowner and residents to clear any vegetation:

  • within 10m of an existing building
  • other than trees within 50m of an existing building.

The BMO is included in bushfire prone areas.

More about the 10/50 rule

If a fence is built before 10 September 2009, landowners and residents are allowed to clear any vegetation for a maximum combined width of four metres along an existing property boundary fence.

The fence line rule applies to areas designated as bushfire prone area under the Building Act 1993.

The BMO is included in bushfire prone areas.

More about the fence line clearing rule

This exemption only applies to new dwellings and alterations or extensions to an existing dwelling in certain land use zones considered under the Bushfire Management Overlay.

It facilitates the clearing of vegetation without the need for a planning permit and applies to the footprint of:

  • a new dwelling and the defendable space area
  • alternations and extensions to existing dwellings and the defendable space area.

More about the dwellings under clause 44.06 clearing rule

Covenants, landslide and resources

Vegetation plays an important role in reducing erosion and stabilising soil to minimise the risk of landslide.  While you may be able to clear some vegetation around an existing building without council approval to create defendable space, you should consider landslide and erosion risk before you do.

More about erosion and landslide risk

For more information about the risk in your area contact your local council.

Page last updated: 17/08/20