On 7 December 2019, the Queensland Government released its draft South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2019-2024 (SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy). Landowners and developers in South East Queensland should urgently review the mapping included with the strategy and consider whether the SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy will adversely affect their land and its development potential. If affected land is already developed (i.e. is covered by a building, structure, sealed surface or artificial water body), a request can be made for it to be removed from the draft mapping.
Any request to amend the draft mapping needs to be made to the Queensland Government by 22 December 2019 and submissions in respect of the SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy are due by 31 January 2020.
We have reviewed the draft SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy and although key details are yet to be announced, the strategy appears to propose the following important changes:
- Expansion of areas subject to regulation regarding Koalas from a limited number of local government areas (such as Redlands and Ipswich) to include all of South East Queensland, meaning that developments across the region will be subject to more stringent assessment in respect of clearing and other issues;
- A prohibition on clearing Koala habitat in Priority Koala Areas (yet to be defined);
- The removal, in Koala Habitat Areas, of vegetation clearing exemptions for that previously existed under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 and the Planning Regulation 2017 for:
- an urban purpose in an urban area; and
- a Material Change of Use or Reconfiguring a Lot on sites less than 5 hectares;
- The implementation of a new state code for development assessment that will contain assessment benchmarks that aim to:
- deliver “no net loss” of Koala Habitat Area;
- reduce fragmentation of Koala Habitat Areas; and
- maintain or improve connectivity within and between Koala Habitat Areas.
Importantly for land developers, the new state code is likely to include measures that will significantly reduce development yield, such as requirements for “buffer” zones, which would not allow the placement of buildings, structures or works within 50 metres of koala habitat.
If you need any assistance in responding to these changes, and how they impact your property, or if you wish to make a submission concerning the draft SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy please contact Peter Bittner, Partner or Luke Walker, Senior Associate in our Brisbane Planning, Environment and Government team.
This article was written by Peter Bittner, Partner and Luke Walker, Senior Associate.