DESPITE the narrow one vote defeat of Labor’s draconian Vegetation Reinstatement Bill in August, landholders throughout Queensland are still not taking simple steps to protect billions of dollars of assets by “locking in” the vegetation on their properties.
Specialist rural lawyer Tom Marland said landholders using the Property Map of Assessable Vegetation (PMAV) process, were still able to “lock in” non-remnant vegetation status under the current vegetation laws.
The cost of a PMAV is $419.30 with a simple three-page form. One application can be used to lock in multiple properties. Once a PMAV is “locked in” the vegetation status of that property is unaffected by future changes to vegetation regulations, namely regrowth and reef catchment restrictions.
Mr Marland said the PMAV was the only shining light under the Beattie government’s Vegetation Management Act in 2006. It enabled landholders to lock in areas they had developed and also challenge areas of vegetation that were incorrectly mapped.
“However, despite being available for the past decade, landholders are still placing their properties at risk of losing the development rights to their land,” Mr Marland said.
“It does my head in that landholders are still not getting the message. You may not agree with the laws or the process but why expose yourself to future opportunistic amendments to the regulations that could see people lose millions of dollars by not locking in a PMAV?
“We dodged a bullet by the narrowest of margins in August, that would have seen millions of acres effectively lost by regrowth and reef catchment restrictions and yet landholders are still not taking simple and cheap steps to protect themselves.
“The industry has some big battles on their hands and we can’t expect our political representatives and our agricultural groups to be running around the country side trying to defeat these ridiculous bills if landholders won’t take simple steps to protect themselves”.
“People spent days and week writing submissions, appearing at parliamentary inquiries, attending rallies across the state and it was a great win to defeat the Vegetation Reinstatement bill. But all that good work will come undone unless those with the most to lose take basic steps to help themselves”.
Mr Marland said the former LNP government brought in amendments to the Vegetation Act in 2012 that introduced what was termed a “state-wide lock in PMAV” which sought to lock in non-remnant or “white” country throughout Queensland. Unfortunately, that PMAV was not individualised per property and with the return of Labor saw those areas placed at risk again.
However, a lock-in PMAV is still available under the current regulations and can still be lodged on individual properties, he said.
Although the Vegetation Reinstatement bill was defeated in August, proposed regrowth and reef catchment areas are still present on many regional ecosystem maps.
Reef catchment restrictions seek to place a 100m buffer around drainage lines and prevent future regrowth control over those areas which will allow them to revegetate to remnant status.
Regrowth restrictions in “high-value” regional ecosystems such as the brigalow belt will also seek to restrict future management of revegetated regrowth.
“People say to me, a PMAV is not worth the paper it is written on, they can just change the act,” Mr Marland said.
“Well, a PMAV is registered on little piece of paper called your title and once it is there is very difficult to remove.
“It amazes me that rural financiers and banks don’t make it a funding condition to have a locked in PMAV on title. They are lending and people are borrowing millions of dollars on an asset that could have its value wiped overnight with changes to vegetation regulations.”
“If everyone gets a PMAV, there is no Vegetation Reinstatement Bill. They can tinker at the edges but your high value land is protected”
“Quite frankly, it you don’t have a PMAV you are a bloody idiot.”
- Tom Marland is the principal of Marland Law Agribusiness and Advisory.