Land Clearing Laws Overturned in the NSW Land and Environment Court


The NSW Land and Environment Court on Friday declared the government’s Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2017 to be “invalid and of no effect”.  The Court order means that any clearing that has been done under the invalid code since August 25, 2018 is actually unlawful,” the Environmental Defenders Office NSW said in a statement. Documents filed with the court in November 2017 by the NSW Nature Conservation Council argued Gabrielle Upton, the state’s environment minister, “failed to adequately consider the principles of ecologically sustainable development” as required by law when making the codes.

Secondly, it argued Niall Blair, primary industries minister, failed to obtain agreement from Ms Upton before making the laws.


What is a Flora and Fauna Report or Ecological Assessment Report ?

As Ecologists (Ecological Consultants) based in Sydney and servicing our clients throughout New South Wales, we are often asked by our clients what is an Ecological Assessment Report ? (Flora and Fauna Report, Ecological Assessment, 5 Part Test of Significance, Biodiversity Development Assessment Report) ?.  Basically, these are reports which a government authority (often a council) requests to provide information relating to the fauna and flora habitat values on a property along with the potential impacts from an activity such as a land development.  At Anderson Environmental Pty Ltd we are qualified and experienced ecologists with experience undertaking Flora and Fauna Assessments and Ecological Assessments since 1992 and these have been undertaken for almost every purpose imaginable including: residential and rural residential subdivisions, powerline construction, water pipelines, mapping of threatened flora and fauna habitats, water catchment biodiversity surveys, mining impact assessment, land re-zonings and for bushland management.  These ecological reports have many names including;

  • Flora and Fauna Assessment Report (7 Part Test of Significance – now the 5 Part Test of Significance)
  • Flora and Fauna Report
  • Ecological Assessment Report
  • Biodiversity Assessment Report
  • Bushland Assessment Report
  • Ecological Impact Assessment
  • Flora and Fauna Impact Assessment

With the recent change in legislation however with the implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Act (BC Act 2016) and the Biobanking Assessment Methodology (BAM) the reports are now titled:

  • Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) – these are undertaken to assess the impacts of a development on a development site. They assess the ecological values and provide a credit calculation of how many offset credits are required (if applicable).
  • Biodiversity Stewardship Assessment Report (BSAR) – these are undertaken to assess the values of a site, often a site which is to be proposed to be used as an offset. They calculate the credits for species and ecosystems on the site.  These were formerly call Biobanking Sites.
  • Biodiversity Certification Assessment Reports (BCAR) – these are often undertaken for strategic assessments of lands and changes in land use.

We are fully qualified and accredited Biobanking Assessment Method Assessors (BAM Assessors) accredited and licensed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW).  We are qualified to undertake Biodiversity Development Assessment Reports (BDAR), Biodiversity Stewardship Assessment Reports (BSAR) and Biodiversity Certification Assessment Reports (BCAR).

For more information please visit the link below or feel free to give us a call on 1300 302 507 or contact us through our contact page of our website –

What is a Vegetation Management Plan (Bushland Management Plan) ?

A Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) is often required when developing land or when undertaking activities close to a drainage line.  The purpose of a Vegetation Management Plan or Bushland Management Plan is to provide active management actions for the management of vegetation for conservation purposes to improve its integrity and viability.  Often they are written to offset clearing and maintain and improve vegetation to reduce environmental impacts including erosion and its impacts on water quality.  At Anderson Environmental Pty Ltd we have been providing Vegetation Management Plans since 1992 when we first started working in Mining Rehabilitation.  Vegetation Management Plans are undertaken in accordance with local and state guidelines.  Although they are called Vegetation Management Plans we also undertake them in accordance with best practice internationally and in accordance with the principles of Ecological Restoration.  Ecological Restoration includes all facets of ecosystem management and also considers fauna habitat management and restoration.  We have been leaders in this industry since 1992 as we have not just focused on “getting some plants in the ground” but have considered the ecological community present, its viability and threats and the interaction of this community and its resources to the importance of local fauna and threatened flora and fauna species, soil stability and erosion control.

Therefore, a Vegetation Management Plan or Bushland Management Plan is often requested by most Sydney and NSW Regional Councils however Vegetation Management Plans are also undertaken in Queensland and Victoria.  Most councils require a VMP to be undertaken by the developer as part of their Development Application for development sites.  Such developments which require Vegetation Management Plans or Bushland Management Plans include: land development, residential and rural residential subdivisions, extensions to dwellings, roads, powerline easements, golf courses, mining, building construction and rezoning.

We are highly experienced at writing Vegetation Management Plans and Bushland Management Plans but most importantly we are highly experienced Ecological Restoration Specialists and Bush Regeneration Specialists.  We undertake the actual work on the ground of planting, threatened flora species management, erosion control and fauna habitat creation, restoration and management.  With experience in this area since 1992 stemming from Mining Restoration and Mining Rehabilitation we have an innate understanding of soils and soil remediation, vegetation and fauna habitat and their inter-relationships and therefore we can undertake Bush Regeneration at the highest level above and beyond other providers of this service.  The advantage for our clients is savings in cost and time with high quality outputs achieved through an innate understanding of site factors and methods to achieve the required outcomes.  We are highly respected by government and councils so much so that our advice and methods has been written into many of their guidelines for undertaking Vegetation Management Plans.

In NSW any “Controlled Activity” which occurs on waterfront land or near to a creekline, river or drainage line or lake is controlled by the NSW Department of Water and it is a legal obligation under the NSW Water Management Act 2000 to prepare a Vegetation Management Plan.  This plant must be prepared in accordance with their requirements as per the link below.



Why do I require a Contamination Report ?

(Preliminary Site Investigation or Detailed Site Investigation)

We are often asked by clients “why are council requesting a contamination report ?”.  Why do I require a Preliminary Site Investigation under SEPP 55 ??  What is a Detailed Site Investigation ??  These recent articles on ABC News and Nine News provide an example.  The articles outline the impacts which can occur from the use of chemicals which were used frequently in the past but were not at the time of use known to be a high risk.  Now however, like asbestos risks and asbestos contamination we know the risk to be high and dangerous to human health.  In this case the chemical(s) were Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).  These are members of a group of chemicals known as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Both PFOS and PFOA are very persistent in the environment.  They were used in firefighting foams by the Australian Air Force at the Williamstown Air Force Base which resulted in groundwater contamination.  The contamination means residents cannot drink their bore water or eat home-grown vegetables or eggs from farmyard chickens.  A resident has stated that banks are withholding loans in the area and valuers are not coming to site when they find out it’s in the exclusion zone.  As such, and in addition to the associated potential health risks of such contamination events, land values suffer making it more difficult to sell and lowering the price.  So why has council requested a Preliminary Site Investigation becomes quite clear when you consider that a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (Preliminary Site Investigation) is used to identify potential risks of contamination to a property.  Groundwater contamination is only one of the potential types of contamination.  Soils are often contaminated by previous use of a site or from illegal dumping which often occurs around larger cities and urban areas (particularly western Sydney).  As Environmental Consultants based in Sydney we come across contamination situations quite often.  As part of any purchase (just like a home inspection) it is well worth obtaining the services of an experienced environmental consultant to undertake an assessment of the property to determine the potential risk of contamination by way of a Phase 1 Preliminary Site Investigation report.  If there is an identified risk of potential contamination then a Phase 2 Detailed Site Investigation should be undertaken to determine if there is contamination present, it type, extent and recommended remediation.  In many countries these reports are extremely common and are linked to the mortgage application process and are requested by the banks before providing finance.  The banks protect their investment by only providing mortgages to customers purchasing a “clean” site.  Australia lags behind somewhat as this is not often a request by banks or thought of by purchasers of property.  It is however a critical part of Due Diligence with any property purchase particularly if it is a farm, disused piece of land or former industrial site or if the history of the site is uncertain.  The impacts of purchasing a contaminated piece of land can include significant health impacts and significant financial losses through clean up costs.