Wingecarribee Shire Council is urging residents to familiarise themselves with local and State requirements before clearing trees and vegetation from around their home before or after a bush fire.
The call comes in the wake of the recent fires to hit both our Shire's northern and southern villages.
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Council's Manager Development Assessment, Nancy Sample, said the first step was to check the conditions of the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme on the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) website.
"It's understandable that residents are concerned about vegetation surrounding their house becoming fuel for a fire and possibly impacting on their residence," she said.
"However in most cases the removal of vegetation does require some level of approval."
"Should properties be located in designated bush fire prone land, residents may be able to clear the immediate area surrounding their properties as per the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme."
Under the 10/50 Code eligible property owners only may be able to clear trees on their property within 10 metres of their home and clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of their home without approval.
Eligible property owners can only clear their own land. Restrictions may apply to certain properties and before any clearing is undertaken property owners must check and verify if their properties meet the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme criteria.
Landholders can check their eligibility at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/1050-vegetation-clearing/tool.
The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme is a NSW State Government initiative prepared in partnership with the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and is not a policy of Council.
"The next step for landholders is to check the zoning of their property to determine the relevant agency for tree and vegetation clearing requirements," said Mrs Sample.
Landholders can check the zoning of their property using the State Government's online tool at www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/spatialviewer/#/find-a-property/address.
The NSW Planning Portal is an initiative of the New South Wales Government acting through the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment that provides access to a range of planning services and information under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
For properties that are zoned rural, landowners should contact Local Land Services Moss Vale office on phone 4877 3211 or visit southeast.lls.nsw.gov.au.
For all other non-rural zoned properties including those in Environment Zones, and applications that are part of or related to Development Applications, landholders should contact Council.
Further exemptions for fire-affected vegetation may apply if the tree(s) are deemed dead, dying or dangerous to life or property.
Land owners should contact Council for instructions on what to do if their properties have been extensively burnt during the course of a bushfire.
"While it's imperative we protect existing structures and make areas safe following the fires, the last thing anyone wants to see is widespread wanton removal of healthy trees that don't pose a threat," said Mrs Sample.
"Our native animals in particular need shelter at this crucial time and rely on trees and vegetation for their welfare, food and safety.
"Council has been working with landholders directly affected by the fires and we'll fast track exemption requests for single tree or small-scale vegetation removals as well as Development Applications for building modifications and additions," she said.
"I encourage anyone who is unsure about where to start to contact Council for advice."
For more information visit www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/individual-tree-removal or contact Wingecarribee Shire Council on phone 4868 0888.