Massive, high-yield, suburban style development, using upwards of 90 per cent of the site have been allowed in Inverloch while the council fiddles away with its neighbourhood character policies. M293414
THERE appears to be no end in sight to the systematic removal of vegetation from Inverloch’s popular, leafy precinct on the surf beach side of town.
Affected property owner and Townsend Ward councillor Jordan Crugnale lamented the practice on several occasions at last Wednesday night’s council meeting.
And she provided a reason as to why some property owners may feel they can almost completely denude their sites of vegetation with impunity.
“I’m pleased to see that there is to be a review of the 10/30 rule. Unfortunately people are taking out vegetation for their own purposes, not for the 10/30 rule,” she said during discussion of the report from the shire’s Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee.
“We’ve had a lot of blocks in Inverloch that have been denuded of all vegetation. I’d like to see us publish a similar pamphlet to the one put out by Yarra Ranges – ‘Think Before You Remove’.
According to the Mayor, Cr Neil Rankine, the council is planning to put out such a pamphlet, but the big stick approach to disreputable practices is still some way off.
During an earlier discussion about height restrictions in coastal towns, prompted by a question from the public gallery about the implications of the VCAT decision to refuse to allow a three-storey development, 9.4 metres high and 65 metres from the foreshore, Cr Rankine said such applications would be a thing of the past once the Township Character Study was handed down, likely to be at the September council meeting, he said.
He said the guidelines in the study would allow the council to go ahead and prepare or review neighbourhood character studies, especially for the coastal towns.
But the proviso, and it’s a big one, is that these local character studies can only go ahead when there are funds available.
“Council needs to understand the issues and use the new Neighbourhood Residential Zones standards, which we don’t use presently.”
Cr Rankine said the shire’s planning department would be guided by the neighbourhood character studies and VCAT findings in setting the rules for vegetation removal, setbacks, building heights, building envelopes and how much of the site can be developed.
But in the meantime, the shire’s planners are flying blind and all sorts of abominations are taking place.
Cr Crugnale also queried why the council was allowing three Gippsland Manna Gums to be removed from a home site in Inverloch.
“There’s nothing about the status of these trees as a koala habitat,” Cr Crugnale noted, addressing her remarks to the planning officers.
Acting Planning and Environment director, Jodi Kennedy undertook to provide those details for the councillor.
The 10/30 and 10/50 rules
PLANNING permit exemptions were provided for Victoria’s planning schemes, as a result of the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission, to enable residents to manage vegetation for bushfire protection around their property, and adjacent to fences on property boundaries.
Permit exemptions for vegetation removal only apply to existing buildings and fences built or approved before certain dates.
These entitlements have been introduced to enable residents to manage vegetation around their existing dwellings for bushfire protection, without the need for a planning permit.
These entitlements are closely aligned with risk of bushfire.
The ‘10/50 rule’?
The ‘10/50 rule’ enables all landowners in areas covered by the Bushfire Management Overlay to clear:
• Any vegetation on their property, including trees within 10 metres of a house and
• Any vegetation except for trees within 50 metres for bushfire protection.
The ‘10/30 rule’?
The ‘10/30 rule’ applies state-wide except for 21 metropolitan municipalities and allows residents to clear:
• Any vegetation on their property, including trees, within 10 metres of a house and
• Any vegetation except for trees within 30 metres for bushfire protection.
Although the intent of the 10/30 legislation is to allow residents to clear vegetation to improve fire safety without permit requirements, a balance between vegetation/fuel reduction and preservation of the natural environment is valued by your shire and many of its residents.
While the protection of life is paramount, it is critical that residents and council work together to strike the right balance between safety, and the preservation of the natural environment and land stability.
Slashing, pruning or lopping, rather than removing the root systems of plants, is preferable as it allows for the renewal of landscapes and biodiversity in the winter/spring months, rather than permanent loss of vegetation.
It is also worth noting that ground storey vegetation and trees play an important role in soil stability and erosion control. This is particularly critical in areas prone to landslips and other erosion.