Living in an rural environment is a dream come true for many people. However there is more to it that simply sitting back and enjoying the views. As a land owner you have legal responsibilities for managing your property. It is important to understand what these are as they can affect what you are and are not allowed to do.
- Before you buy or build
- Preparing for fire – what do you need to know
- Pest plant and animal responsibilities
- Collecting firewood
Before you buy or build
There are many things to consider when buying a bush block or designing a building on a treed block. The Department of Primary Industry’s 10 Point Check List: Are you Thinking about Purchasing a Rural Property? gives you a list of things to think about such as: Is the property capable of sustaining what you want to do, what are the relevant planning requirements, does the property have the required quality and quantity of water etc.
Useful websites for planning scheme information about your property
While your local council can advise you on the zones and overlays that may affect your site, this information may also be accessed online via the following websites:
- Department of Planning & Community Development (DPCD)
- Land Channel will provide a free report of the basic details for your property.
- DPI has produced a summary of issues to consider when purchasing a rural property and some of the legal compliance obligations associated with living in rural areas. This site has information which will also be useful for existing landholders.
Native vegetation is not just trees! Native vegetation includes trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses. An area of land that looks like a paddock could actually be one of the rarest types of vegetation in the state – grassland. The word “native” is also referred to as indigenous. Native or indigenous vegetation is vegetation which naturally occurs in that region and has not been introduced since settlement.
We all know that a building permit is a necessary part of the process, however, did you know that you might need a planning permit to remove native vegetation? Before you buy or build: the City of Ballarat’s guide to native vegetation and planning covers a few key concepts and basic tools to assist you and your local council with the speedy processing of native vegetation applications and enquiries.
It is illegal to damage aboriginal artifacts under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2006. Most land operations in a residential area would not fall under these regulations but if you were considering major ground disturbance, then it would be necessary to check on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register for records (a small fee applies).
More information is available from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
Preparing for fire – what do you need to know
Bushfire planning provisions and bushfire building regulations ensure that new development is more resilient to bushfire and that landowners can maintain their property in a fire-ready condition. Resources below will assist you with planning and building for bushfire protection, including links to information such as preparing your property for bushfire:
- Department of Planning and Community Development website: Planning and building for bushfire protection.
- Visit the Building Commission website for information to help guide you with construction and renovation to protect your home.
- The Country Fire Authority’s website has very detailed information on everything to do with protecting your home from bushfire:
- Building a home: Is your house situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire? A guide to retrofit your home for better protection from a bushfire
- Building in a Bushfire Management Overlay
- Creating a defendable space – includes detail on Landscaping for Bushfire: Garden Design and Plant Selection
- FireReady app tutorial:the CFA have produced an online tutorial for the FireReady app, describing features such as setting up Fire Watch Zones, displaying current incidents and monitoring warning information. Watch the tutorial on YouTube.
Pest plant and animal responsibilities
Responsibility for the management and control of noxious weeds and pest animals lies squarely with the property owner, or where a property may be rented or leased, the occupier of the property.
The Department of Planning and Infrastructure website provides a range of information about many weed species of relevance to Victoria. Information provided includes: maps of potential distribution and present distribution in Victoria; invasiveness assessment and impact assessment for species, and links to relevant websites for each species.
DPI website: Invasive species
The website also covers pest animals. Minimising the impact of pest plants and pest animals is a key aspect of sustainable land and water management. Pests are a major cause of degradation to Victoria’s catchments and rivers and impact heavily on a wide range of agricultural and biodiversity assets.
DPI website: Pest animals
Collecting fire wood
Firewood collection from public land is now more affordable and straightforward for the community. Collection of firewood for personal use from State forests (and those parks where collection is allowed) no longer requires a permit.