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Email Link   Camphor Laurel Trees

Advice regarding Camphor Laurel removal

1. Exempt Development

Exempt development is a form of development that if carried out in accordance with specific criteria is considered to have a minimal impact on the environment and therefore does not require development consent from Council. Exempt development provisions are enabled though clause 9 of Tweed Local Environmental Plan (Tweed LEP 2000).

The types of exempt development, the criteria that must be met by that development, and the circumstances where exempt development provisions do not apply are contained in Tweed Shire Development Control Plan: Section A10 – Exempt and Complying Development.

The Exempt and Complying Development section of the DCP makes provision for “Noxious Weed Control”. As Camphor Laurel has been declared a noxious weed under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 this means that the control of this species, can be carried out without consent under certain circumstances.

The circumstances where exempt development provisions do not apply are set out Section A10.2.2 of the DCP. Some examples of relevance to the control of Camphor laurel include:

(a) land that is critical habitat or where there is likely to be a significant effect on threatened species, population or ecological communities or their habitats (within the meaning of the Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 and the Fisheries Management Act, 1994);

(j) development that:

(vii) requires development consent under the provisions of State Environmental Planning Policy No 14 – Coastal Wetlands or State Environmental Planning Policy No 26 – Littoral Rainforests; or

(ix) requires development consent under the provisions of a Tree Preservation Order made under Clause 54 of Tweed LEP 2000.

In cases where the exempt development provisions do apply, Schedule 1 of Section A10 of the DCP sets out the requirements for specific types of development. For the removal of camphor laurel to be regarded as “Noxious Weed Control” under the DCP it:

  • Must be authorised under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993

  • Must be carried out by methods that will not:

· Have a significant impact on native flora and fauna;

· Create significant problems with land degradation including soil erosion, coastal erosion and siltation of waterbodies.

Is Camphor Laurel removal Exempt Development?

Exempt development provisions are designed to facilitate development of a very minor nature where there is very little risk of significant damage to the environment or cultural amenity. Examples of developments included in Council’s exempt development schedule include garden sheds, TV antennas, air conditioning units, barbecues, fences etc. In each of these cases the scale of the development is limited by size and other criteria beyond which development consent is required. In relation to the erection of a TV antenna, for example, consent may not required if it is less the 6m in height but will be if it exceeds 6m.

The harvesting of Camphor Laurel (i.e. cutting off without poisoning) under the “Noxious Weed Control” exemption is considered to fall under the exempt development provisions only if:

  1. The proposal includes the control of the noxious weeds. This means that the tree must be poisoned and killed in the initial work, or a management agreement/contract entered into with Far North Coast Weeds committing to ongoing management of regrowth arising from felled tree stumps. It would be usual for control to be carried out in situ by methods such as poisoning or ringbarking. Used with normal care, such methods could easily meet the exempt development requirements set out above (authorised under Noxious Weeds Act 1993, no significant impact on flora, fauna, land and water resources). However stockpiling, processing and removal of camphor laurel are not considered exempt development as it is unlikely these could be carried out without further safeguards.
  2. The proposal controls noxious weeds in accordance with the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. The Local Control Plan (under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993) for Camphor Laurel states that landholders must reduce the number of trees by 10% annually, or in accordance with an approved property-based management plan. Unless an approved management plan states otherwise, the exempt development provision could not be used for proposals to control and remove more than 10% of camphor laurel on an individual property in any one year. Council’s executive management team has requested that such an arrangement be quantified to provide consistency across the shire and resolved that development involving harvest of more than twenty trees requires development consent.
  3. The proposal is of a small scale. The exemption does not anticipate the wholesale control and removal of a large tree that dominates much of the landscape in Tweed Shire. As noted above Exempt Development provisions are designed to facilitate development of a very minor nature where there is very little risk of significant damage to the environment or cultural amenity. The use of an Exempt Development provision to facilitate the clearing and removal of camphor laurel over a large area or where heavy machinery is used extends well beyond the intent of the exemption.
  4. An ecological assessment has been carried out by a qualified and experienced person and any impacts on threatened species are avoided. The exemption does not apply in cases where there is likely to be a significant effect on threatened species, populations or communities. Given the observation that threatened species and communities are commonly found in the same places as Camphor Laurel this requirement could not be met without an on-ground ecological survey and assessment of significance.
  5. Drainage and erosion and sediment control requirements are considered and impact avoidance methods used. The exemption could only apply if the work is carried out by methods that do not result in significant effect on other flora and fauna or if it leads to significant land degradation problems.

2. LEP Zone Provisions for Camphor Laurel removal in Environmental Protection zones

Notwithstanding the zonal provisions of the LEP and the appropriate land use, consent for harvesting of camphor laurel will be required under a number of specific clauses that apply to Environmental Protection zones within Part 6 of the LEP. Clauses 25, 26 and 28 which apply to the 7(a) Environmental Protection (Wetlands and Littoral Rainforests), 7(d) Environmental Protection (Scenic Escarpment) and the 7(l) Environmental Protection (Habitat) zones all include specific requirements for Council consent for vegetation clearing. In addition vegetation clearing is defined under Clause 30 of the LEP and does not exclude camphor laurel:

30 Definition of “vegetation clearing”
For the purpose of this Part, vegetation clearing means any one or more of the following:
(a) cutting down, felling, thinning, logging or removing any vegetation, or
(b) killing, destroying, poisoning, ringbarking, uprooting or burning vegetation, or
(c) severing, topping or lopping branches, limbs, stems or trunks of native vegetation, or
(d) substantially damaging or injuring native vegetation in any other way.

Therefore, development consent is required for any vegetation removal in Environmental zones.

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