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Draft Unsafe Plants in Non-rural Areas Code of Practice 2021

The Draft Unsafe Plants in Non-rural Areas Code of Practice 2021 closed for consultation on 16 November 2021.


The proposed Code of Practice eliminates the need for a biodiversity conservation licence to damage or remove plants that are a risk to life or property in areas where the State Environmental Planning Policy applies.

Why is a Draft Code of Practice for Unsafe Plants in Non-rural Areas being prepared? 

Under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021, authorisation is not required to remove plants that the council is satisfied are a risk to human life or property. However, if the plants are a threatened or protected species, or form part of a threatened ecological community, then a biodiversity conservation licence (BC licence) must be obtained before removing the plants, to provide a defence to threatened species offences. 

What safeguards are included in the draft code? 

A person can't remove a plant under the Draft Code of Practice unless:

  1. the person owns the land where the plant occurs; 
  2. the person has obtained prior confirmation in writing from the relevant local Council that it is satisfied the plant to be picked is an unacceptable risk to human life or property; 
  3. the authorised action is undertaken by an arborist (minimum qualification of Certificate III in Horticulture (Arboriculture): 
  4. any plant that is picked* under this Code is replaced with a plant of the same species, to be planted in a suitable area on the land from which the plant was taken; 
  5. the person does not unlawfully harm a native animal when picking a plant in accordance with this Code; and 
  6. the person gives the relevant local Council at least 24 hours’ notice in writing of their intention to carry out actions in accordance with this Code. 

* Note: Under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the term picked means the plant or any part of the plant being gathered, taken, cut, removed from the ground, destroyed, poisoned, crushed or injured. 

For more definitions read the:

Draft Code of Practice (PDF)(103.45 KB)

Where would the Code apply? 

The Code would apply on all lands where the State Environmental Planning Policy (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021 applies. The SEPP applies to the non-rural areas of NSW, on land zoned for urban and environmental purposes

When will the Code apply? 

At the close of the public exhibition period, we consider all submissions on the draft Code of Practice and prepare a submissions report. 

The Minister for the Environment considers the draft Code of Practice, submissions and advice, makes any necessary changes and decides whether to adopt the Code of Practice under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

When a Code of Practice is adopted, it is published on the NSW Government Legislation and Department websites. Key stakeholders, including those who made a submission on the draft code, will be notified.

Contact us

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

Phone: 1300 361 967

Email: [email protected]