Rural Roadside Management

Submissions closing on 13 December 2021, 05:00 PM

Rural roadside

New Rural Roadside Management Plan
Over the coming months, Council will develop a new Rural Roadside Management Plan to replace the previous plan(PDF, 3MB) which expired in 2019. 

The revised Plan will provide guidelines and actions for the management of roadsides across the Corangamite Shire. Various roadside activities will be considered through the plan’s development such as grazing, slashing, fire management, fence maintenance, native revegetation, road construction and maintenance and weed control. 

The aim of the Plan will be to protect important  roadside values, such as indigenous vegetation, heritage sites and landforms, whilst still providing for essential road and roadside functions, such as transport, power and water utilities.

Community and Stakeholder Group (CSG)
Council has established the CSG through an Expression of Interest process in September. The Group will guide the development of the new Rural Roadside Management Plan.

This group includes representatives from Council,  Regional Roads Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, the Country Fire Authority, Catchment Management Authorities, local Landcare networks, tourism authorities, Traditional Owner groups and seven community representatives.

Issues & Opportunities Paper
The first stage in the Plan’s development is the production of an Issues and Opportunities paper, which is now open for four weeks of public consultation. This paper has been developed in consultation with the CSG.

Through consultation seven key themes have been identified under which issues and opportunities for roadside management are grouped. These themes are:

  • Weed Control
  • Fire Risk Reduction
  • Biodiversity Conservation and Enhancement
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Roadside Maintenance
  • Access for all Roadside Users
  • Climate Change. 

Our community is encouraged to provide feedback on these themes, which can be expanded below, to help inform the main issues and opportunities for rural roadside management in the Shire.

Feedback will be considered and incorporated in the development of the Draft Plan, due for completion by early 2022. The Draft Plan will be exhibited for four weeks of public consultation at that time. 

Submissions close 5 pm, Monday 13 December.

Feedback forms below.

Council as a land manager has a legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to eradicate regionally prohibited weeds and prevent the growth and spread of regionally controlled weeds in its own parks and reserves. As outlined under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act). This includes roadsides.

Currently, Council targets weed control to new and emerging weeds and roadsides with high conservation value that provide strategic links between areas of remnant vegetation. 

Key challenges:

  • Management of weeds is a shared responsibility that requires co-operation between all roadside users and adjoining land managers
  • Limited Council resources for weed management - prioritisation and targeting is needed; its also difficult to meet community expectations on levels of control
  • Recognising new and emerging weeds and issues of herbicide resistance
  • Minimising the impact of weed control activities (e.g. spray drift) onto commercial crops, organic farms and sensitive native vegetation.

Opportunities are to:

  • Set clear priorities for roadside weed control (using mapping outputs)
  • Adopt a co-operative and coordinated approach between all land managers to maximise impact on weeds while minimising offsite impacts e.g. engagement with certified organic farmers
  • Support partnerships with landholder and community groups to undertake weed control
  • Support adjoining landholders to undertake weed control. 

 

Have your say

South-west Victoria is a fire prone area due to high fuel loads almost every year. Years of persistent low rainfall and hot dry conditions leads to extreme and dangerous fire risk.

Council has a role in taking practical steps to prevent the occurrence of fires on, and minimise the danger of the spread of fires on local road.

As outlined under Section 43 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958.

Fire risk reduction is a shared responsibility that requires co-operation between Council, all roadside users, the CFA and adjoining land managers.

Key challenges:

  • Co-ordination of fire risk reduction activities between Council, all roadside users, the CFA and adjoining land managers
  • Making sure fuel reduction activities don’t negatively impact sensitive native vegetation and habitat values
  • Differences in opinion about how best to maintain roads as “relatively safe corridors” in the event of wildfire.

Opportunities are to:

  • Adopt a co-operative and coordinated approach to fire risk reduction between all interested parties, particularly landholders, CFA,  DELWP and Council
  • Use cultural and/or ecological burning techniques to meet multiple objectives
  • Establish controlled arrangements for landholders to reduce fuel loads on some roadsides (mowing and grazing, for example). 

 

Have your say

Roadsides are an important refuge for native species outside larger State-managed public reserves. They have a vital role in linking protected areas and remaining fragments of habitat on private land.

Their role as ‘ecological corridors’ is increasingly important as the climate changes and remaining habitat becomes more fragmented.

Roadsides on the Western Plains are home to 45% of remaining grassland sites and 25% of all plant species listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Plains Grassland and Plains Grassy Woodland communities are critically endangered and a matter of national environmental significance listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.

Key challenges:

  • Minimising negative impact of roadside activities on biodiversity values including operation of plant and machinery in areas of native vegetation (during routine / periodic maintenance, utility and service provision), storing construction and other materials on roadsides, firewood collection, illegal dumping,cropping, ploughing and grazing; and weed and pest animal incursions (e.g. via nature strip plantings)
  • Lack of accessible information on conservation values, habitat condition and desirable management
  • Communication of conservation values and management priorities to all roadside users.

Opportunities are to:

  • Raise awareness and improve understanding about the importance of roadside biodiversity values and everyone’s shared legislative responsibilities to protect them
  • Set clear priorities for roadside biodiversity conservation and enhancement, including shared resources like maps and management guidance
  • Adopt a co-operative and coordinated approach between all land managers to minimise harm /maximise benefits for biodiversity
  • Support landholders, community groups and the wider public to undertake conservation activities
  • Advocate for and access funding for roadside biodiversity enhancement as part of road upgrade works.

 

Have your say

Council recognises the need to protect cultural heritage sites from damage on and adjacent to roadsides, e.g. Aboriginal sites, heritage stonewalls, avenues of honour.

Sites such as stonewall fences are heritage listed and require particular management. These can be listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and are protected under Heritage Act 1995.

Victoria’s Aboriginal heritage is protected and managed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and accompanying Aboriginal Heritage Regulations (2007).

The regulations outline the requirements for the preparation of cultural heritage management plans. Most works on rural roadsides will not require a management plan because they are an extension of an exiting activity.

Key challenges

  • Undiscovered or unlisted heritage sites may be impacted by roadside activities including routine roadside maintenance, utility and service provision
  • Lack of recognition and understanding of the importance of preserving aboriginal heritage
  • Absence of a clear process for roadside users to follow prior to undertaking roadside activities
  • Capacity of Traditional Owner groups to engage on roadside management issues with their time increasingly spent on so many other issues.

Opportunities are to:

  • Raise awareness and improve understanding about potential impacts of roadside activities on cultural heritage
  • Adopt a clear process (with community input) for consideration of Aboriginal and non aboriginal cultural heritage, in accordance with the relevant legislation, on rural roadsides
  • Engage with Traditional Owner groups to find a way to involve them in roadside management. 

 

Have your say

Council’s roads must meet quality and performance standards and provide service levels (in terms of safety and efficiency) that meet the needs of the community. Road maintenance standards vary according to risk factors including: traffic, operating speed and susceptibility of assets to deterioration.

Council manages native vegetation removal on roadsides in accordance with a written agreement with DEWLP that is consistent with the local government public roads exemption provided in the Planning Scheme.

This agreement allows limited clearing of native vegetation for defined maintenance and safety treatments. Clearing outside of this agreement requires a planning permit, with offset planting required.

Removal of native vegetation in Victoria is regulated by the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

Key challenges:

  • Road construction and maintenance activities can negatively impact roadsides when legislated requirements and best practice methods are not followed
  • Road drainage - blocked drains can lead to failure of the wearing course and pavement layers;changed land use to raised bed cropping causing increased drainage discharge to roadsides
  • Removal of roadside vegetation to maintain sightlines for safety. This is essential but can compromise other objectives, particularly the protection of sensitive native vegetation
  • Limited resources available to Council to meet community expectations on desired maintenance levels, particularly following flood events.

Opportunities are to:

  • Adopt a co-operative approach to maintenance of some roadsides (e.g. culvert clearing, fallen timber removal, weed management, mowing) involving landholders and others, such as the CFA
  • Greater awareness and training for all involved in road maintenance and construction of legislated requirements for the protection of native vegetation and cultural heritage assets
  • Integrate drainage and vegetation maintenance/management activities during road upgrades
  • Advocate for and access funding to protect/enhance roadside values (biodiversity and cultural heritage) when road upgrades are undertaken. 

 

Have your say

There are several groups of stakeholders (other than Council) that access and use local roadsides.

These include:

  • Landholders – fence maintenance, livestock droving, machinery movement, access to properties, underpasses
  • Utility service providers and their contractors – installation and maintenance of services (electricity, telecommunications, water, sewage and gas)
  • Fire and other emergency services – access to properties and front line control
  • Recreational users – roadside trails (designated or not) used by walkers, cyclists, horse riders
  • Community groups – including ‘Friends Groups’, Landcare.

The Plan will outline their responsibilities as roadside users.

Key challenges:

  • Ensuring safety at all times for all roadside users§ Streamlining permit applications - avoiding an onerous application process
  • Maintaining access - particularly for emergency services and utilities personnel
  • Marrying competing uses e.g. livestock and machinery movement with recreation trails,while protecting environmental and cultural assets
  • Roadside revegetation compatible with other roadside uses such as utilities provision
  • Fence line maintenance that minimises impacts on native vegetation.

Opportunities are to:

  • Develop an online information-sharing platform that signposts key information and guidance for all road users
  • Adopt a strengthened process to improve coordination of roadside management and use activities between key stakeholders. 

 

Have your say

Increasing pressures from climate change need to be taken into account in the new Plan.

Including:

  • Risk of major fires and wild weather in the region
  • Land use change - renewable energy generation - shift from grazing to cropping

Some roadsides are being negatively affected by these changes.

Key challenges:

  • Increasing frequency of weather events impacting on roadsides including damage to vegetation and drainage features
  • Managing
         - excess drainage from adjoining raised bed cropping land uses and flood events
         - differing expectations on fuel loads on roadsides, in a drying environment with increased bushfire risk
         - potential damage of roadsides from wide-load heavy vehicles transporting infrastructure to renewable energy developments (“last mile” impacts)

Opportunities are to:

  • Introduce species in roadside revegetation works that are more fire resistant and climate resilient
  • Align strategies and plans for the main arterial network with this Plan to ensure a consistent approach to reducing climate impacts on roadsides
  • Adopt a co-operative and coordinated approach to maintenance of higher fire risk roadsides (e.g. culvert clearing, fallen timber removal, weed management, mowing) involving adjoining landholders, CFA and others. 

 

Have your say