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Requirements for Levees Repairs and Maintenance Permits and Permit Exemptions

On Crown land, a levee maintenance permit scheme is set out in the Water Act 1989 and permits are issued by Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) as delegates of the Minister. On private land, repairs and routine maintenance of levees is set out under the relevant council planning scheme, including planning permit exemptions.

A levee maintenance permit can be issued to anyone who wishes to maintain a levee located on Crown land so long as they have made an application consistent with the Act. 

A levee maintenance permit can authorise the person who holds it to:

  • access a Crown land levee, including passing over Crown land
  • remove specified trees and plants from the levee
  • restore heavily eroded sections of the levee, and
  • undertake minor maintenance of the levee for up to five years

The permit can authorise these activities across different Crown land tenures including National Parks, State Forests and Crown Land Reserves.  

A levee maintenance permit does have limitations, however. It cannot authorise:

  • the building of a new levee or the moving of a levee
  • you to make the levee bigger than it originally was
  • maintenance of a levee on private land, and
  • you to use someone’s private land get access to the Crown land levee

A levee maintenance permit does not exist in isolation, however, as Crown land is used for many different purposes and has many laws that apply to it.

There are 2 key phases to obtaining a levee maintenance permit on Crown Land.

  1. Pre-Application phase.
  2. Application and Approval Phase

Pre-application phase is to ensure an exchange of information between the applicant and key agencies to help enable the permit applicant (where possible) to make an application that is in compliance with the Act.

In the Pre –Application phase the CMA will, in the first instance, discuss with the applicant:

  • Where the levee they intend to maintain is
  • The dimensions to which they wish to maintain the levee, and
  • What might need to be included in their Work Plan, including tree removal and preferred access routes, to ensure that they are authorised to conduct all the activities required to maintain the levee.

The CMA will notify the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) and the land managers that an expression of interest in seeking a Permit has been made. DEECA play a critical role in the permit scheme. They are able to provide information on land status and will often have information on cultural and environmental significance.

Identifying cultural heritage and environmental values at an early stage of the planning process will give the applicant the opportunity to design a Work Plan which avoids these values where possible and therefore avoiding the need for further approvals.

On the basis of the information provided by DEECA, the CMA should also be in a position to advise the applicant if they can reasonably expect that an application for a permit would be approved and under what conditions, which will enable the applicant to assess their potential costs before proceeding further.

If the application looks likely to proceed, the CMA may organise a site visit with the applicant, Crown land manager and/or DEECA. The Crown land manager (Parks Vic for example) is critical at this time in identifying any local issue. Their attendance at the site visit will enable them to flag any conditions they may put on the permit in response to local issues thus enabling the applicant to build those conditions into their Work Plan.

Before making an application, it is important to remember that Crown land is managed for a range of purposes including recreational, economic, environmental and cultural heritage purposes. Accessing and undertaking activities on Crown land needs to be done in a way that respects those purposes and sometimes - depending on the nature of the land - this can become expensive. As a consequence, when applying for a Crown land levee maintenance permit you should also consider other ways to protect your assets from flood risk as these may be more cost effective for you.  Other options include raising the floor levels of buildings or creating smaller ‘curtilage’ levees around specific infrastructure. The CMA can discuss these options with you.

  1. Once we receive your pre-application form the CMA will forward it to DEECA who prepare a Land Status report and Land Assessment report. This will determine if the levee maintenance works sit within this permit scheme.
  2. The CMA will conduct a site visit of the levee with both the applicant and the Crown land manager. The purpose of the site visit is to facilitate a conversation between the CMA and the applicant about:
    • the location of the levee,
    • dimensions that the levee can be maintained to,
    • what a permit can and cannot authorise and the role that the levee plays in the floodplain, including in relation to the broader system
    • the most appropriate access routes to access the levee, considering the potential to trigger other approvals(eg under the Cultural Heritage Act, Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
  3. Lodgement of an application. The CMA will make available an application form and an application kit that will provide guidance on the following:
    • An Application Form
    • Map of the levee system with significant features marked
    • A Work Plan for maintenance activities
    • Signed approval of relevant Crown land lessees, if applicable
    • Proof of Insurance
    • A Cultural Heritage Assessment (and Management Plan), if applicable
    • Location of any threatened flora and fauna communities within the vicinity (if applicable)
  4. Permit issued and works undertaken.
  1. Once we receive your pre-application form the CMA wil l send that off to DELWP who prepare a Land Status report and Land Assessment report. This will determine if the levee maintenance works sit within this permit scheme.

 

  1. The CMA will conduct a site visit of the levee with both the applicant(you) and the Crown land manager. The purpose of the site visit is to facilitate a conversation between the CMA and the applicant about:

  • the location of the levee,

  • dimensions that the levee can be maintained to,

  • what a permit can and cannot authorise and the role that the levee plays in the floodplain, including in relation to the broader system

  • the most appropriate access routes to access the levee, considering the potential to trigger other approvals(eg under the Cultural Heritage Act, Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

 

  1. Lodgement of an application. The CMA will make available an application form and an application kit that will provide guidance on the following:

  • An Application Form

  • Map of the levee system with significant features marked

  • A Work Plan for maintenance activities

  • Signed approval of relevant Crown land lessees, if applicable

  • Proof of Insurance

  • A Cultural Heritage Assessment (and Management Plan), if applicable

  • Location of any threatened flora and fauna communities within the vicinity (if applicable)

 

  1. Permit issued and works undertaken.

Within the Goulburn Broken Catchment, rural floodplain areas have largely been identified in planning schemes as Floodway Overlay (FO) or Land Subject to Inundation Overlay.

These flood overlay controls may be found using planning schemes online or VicPlan.

The flood overlay controls in planning schemes trigger the need for an applicant to apply for a planning permit from the responsible authority (local government authorities) for building and works unless exemptions apply.

The relevant exemption for levee repairs “works” is included under Clause 62.02-2 of all planning scheme across Victoria.  The relevant extract from Clause 62.02-2 provides the following:

Building and works not requiring a permit unless specifically required by the planning scheme.

Any requirement in this scheme relating to the construction of a building or the construction or carrying out of works, other than a requirement in the Public Conservation and Resource Zone, does not apply to:

Repair and routine maintenance to an existing building and works.

*NOTES*

A Heritage Overlay (Clause 43.01-1) requires a planning permit for repairs ”which change the appearance of a heritage place or which are not undertaken to the same details, specification and materials.”

Repair and routine maintenance of levee means that the levee is to replace like with like, i.e., increase in levee height may require a planning a permit under the applicable zones and flood overlay provisions.

Protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

Carrying out work to gain earthen material for levee repairs from borrow pits must be from private land.  As such the protection of cultural heritage areas must be observed.

Further information can be found under the Victorian website First Peoples – State Relations Aboriginal heritage legislation and the relevant council website on aboriginal culture heritage.

Protection of Native Vegetation

The Native Vegetation Removal Regulations (2017) are the rules governing the removal of native vegetation in Victoria. These regulations are generally implemented through all Victorian planning schemes. Further information can be found on the relevant council website on native vegetation.

The Goulburn Broken CMA acknowledges and respects First Nations people and the deep connection they have with their land and waters.


We acknowledge the Yorta Yorta and Taungurung people and their ancestors/forbears as Traditional Owners of the land and waters in the Goulburn Broken Catchment (and beyond). We value our ongoing partnerships with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Taungurung Land and Waters Council for the health of Country and its people.


We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge and recognise the primacy of Traditional Owners obligations, rights and responsibilities to use and care for their traditional lands and waters.

Shepparton
168 Welsford Street, PO Box 1752, Shepparton VIC 3630
T (03) 5822 7700
F (03) 5831 6254

Benalla
89 Sydney Road, PO Box 124, Benalla VIC 3672
T (03) 5822 7700

Yea
Shop 5/10 High Street, Yea VIC 3717
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