Major Native Vegetation Management Reforms For Territory
Interim Development Control Order (IDCO) No.17, commonly known as the ‘Daly Land Clearing Moratorium,’ expired on 5 March 2010.
IDCO’s are declared under s31 of the Planning Act and remain in force for two years (or less if specified). IDCO17 came into affect on 5 March 2008.
An IDCO cannot be applied to land within three months after the day on which a previous IDCO affecting the same land expires, unless it relates to a different matter.
IDCO17 formalised the Daly Land Clearing Moratorium, which was initiated on 9 November 2003 by then Chief Minister Clare Martin. The Moratorium was designed to halt clearing approvals and allow time to conduct scientific research and community consultation to ensure that development of the Daly Region is sustainable.
Since 2003, scientific research, planning and community consultation has been conducted, including:
- The formation of the Daly River Community Reference Group, replaced by the Daly River Management Advisory Committee (DRMAC) in 2006;
- A water allocation plan for the Tindall Limestone Aquifer has been declared, ensuring the sustainable management of the resource;
- The development of a water allocation plan for the Oolloo Aquifer is well underway and water licenses are in place;
- The Land Clearing Guidelines have been revised, including special guidelines for the Daly Catchment;
- Drafting of new Native Vegetation Legislation has commenced;
- Daly River Catchment Conservation Plan has been commenced;
- The source of fine sediments in the Daly River have been investigated;
- Water erosion monitoring methods have been trialled;
- Investigations into impacts of clearing on biodiversity have commenced; and
- Adaptive Management trials have commenced.
The research and consultation undertaken by the Territory Government has increased the understanding of ecosystems and community concerns in the Daly Region and has formed the basis of a review of the land clearing assessment process.
Changes will ensure that well planned land clearing applications addressing potential social and environmental impacts are provided by applicants and processed in a manner that properly considers community, industry and environmental issues.
Timeline of events of Moratorium
- 1992 – Clearing controls applied to Pastoral Land under the Pastoral Land Act. Land Clearing Guidelines released.
- February 2002 – development permits required under the Planning Act for the clearing of more than 1ha of native vegetation (in aggregate) on specified zoned land. Land Clearing Guidelines adopted and amended.
- December 2002 – IDCO12 declared under the Planning Act, requiring development permits for the clearing of more than 1ha of native vegetation (in aggregate) on unzoned land.
- November 2003 – Chief Minister Clare Martin calls a halt to land clearing in the Daly Region to allow community consultation and scientific research to be conducted to ensure that future development is environmentally and socially sustainable. Daly River Community Reference Group is established to advise the Government.
- November 2004 clearing controls on unzoned land declared under IDCO12 are made permanent under the Planning Act. Daly River Community Reference Group releases draft report.
- July 2006 Daly River Management Advisory Committee (DRMAC) formed to act on recommendations made by the Community Reference Group.
- 2007 Katherine Water Advisory Committee announced (sub-committee DRMAC).
- Dec 2007 – Daly Moratorium extended with an emphasis on water allocation planning.
- 5 March 2008 - IDCO17 declared, formalising the Daly Moratorium.
- 12 December 2008 – Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Heritage announces reforms to native vegetation management in the NT including the Daly:
- World’s best practice native vegetation legislation;
- IDCO 17 amendments:
- Applications allowed proposing limited clearing for non-irrigation purposes – a maximum of 200ha per parcel and a maximum of 2000ha within the control area (1200ha allocated to Stray Creek area and 800ha to the remainder). Clearing to be connected to adaptive management trials supported by DRMAC;
- Applications allowed for clearing of native vegetation on previously cleared areas;
- Tightening of land clearing procedures:
- New application process;
- Applications greater than 200ha directed to Minister for decision on whether formal environmental assessment is required.
- 5 March 2010 – IDCO17 expires.