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Farmers need sensible solutions to Native Vegetation Regulations: VFF

Article Category  Ag and Environment
Date Published  Thursday, September 7 2017
Author  Victorian Farmers Federation

Farmers need sensible solutions to Native Vegetation Regulations: VFF
Recent media about the Rich family at Kaniva and the Native Vegetation Regulations highlights issues the Victorian Farmers Federation has been calling out for several years.

The Rich family wishes to remove 25 trees from a paddock to allow them to use larger agricultural machinery, which will not currently fit between some trees in the paddock. 95 trees will still remain.

Despite a successful planning permit application lodged with the West Wimmera Council, three local residents objected and the case has now dragged on for three years.

The VFF says that this case highlights that reviewing the Native Vegetation Regulations before setting in place a Biodiversity Strategy led to a costly process that impacts farmers and the regional economy.

The VFF calls on the State Government to:

  • Ensure the maintenance of the current one-hectare pathway
  • Remove third party notice and appeal rights in rural zones
  • Reduce the permit application fees
  • Allow for ecological assessments to be undertaken by DELWP staff

    “It shouldn’t cost a farmer $30 – 50,000 to remove a small number of trees that are impacting on farm viability, utilisation of environmentally superior technology and on farm safety”, David Jochinke, VFF President, said.
    “It isn’t fair that a farmer who is not changing a use or building anything but wants to upgrade machinery which is safer and more environmentally friendly faces the same requirements as a developer who is rezoning land and undertaking major changes to use and development”. - David Jochinke
    A group of Western Victorian farmers – including the Rich family – have met with senior DELWP officials and the Minister for the Environment to have discussions about better understanding of “on the ground” impacts of the current regulatory framework and simple actions the Department could take to make the system fairer and achieve collaborative positive outcomes – good for farming and good for the environment.

    “The system is flawed and will continue to fail to achieve its objectives”.

    We need a system that works with the landscape of agriculture, which farmers can easily navigate, and is cost effective both for agricultural production and the environment.

    The VFF says that it is critical that an independent review of the Native Vegetation Regulations is undertaken and includes a regulatory impact statement, a formal advisory committee process and full testing against the principles of SMART Planning.

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