The VFF has called on the Victorian Government to ensure guidelines for the removal of native vegetation can be easily navigated by farmers to avoid costly decisions.
The calls come after Stephen Rich, a cropping farmer from Kaniva, 300km north-west of Ballarat, won a three-year Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal case to cut down 25 trees on his property to allow machinery to enter his paddock.
The battle began after several residents claimed cutting down the trees would threaten biodiversity and ruin the rural views in the area.
VFF president David Jochinke says the current guidelines create a situation that ‘‘isn’t fair’’.
‘‘It shouldn’t cost a farmer $30000 to $50000 to remove a small number of trees that are impacting on farm viability, utilisation of environmentally superior technology and on farm safety,’’ Mr Jochinke said.
‘‘It isn’t fair that a farmer, who is not changing a use or building anything, but wants to upgrade machinery which is safer and more environmentally friendly faces the same requirements as a developer who is rezoning land and undertaking major changes to use and development.’’
The VFF wants the government to ensure the maintenance of the current 1ha pathway, remove third party notice and appeal rights in rural zones, reduce the permit application fees and allow for ecological assessments to be undertaken by DELWP staff.
A group of western Victorian farmers, including the Rich family, has met with senior DELWP officials and the environment minister to gain better understanding of ‘on the ground’ impacts of the current framework.
The group also discussed actions DELWP could take to make the system fairer.