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10/50 vegetation clearing

If you live in an area close to the bush, you need to prepare your home. The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme gives people living near the bush an additional way of being better prepared for bush fires.

The scheme allows people in a designated area to:

  • Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking approval; and
  • Clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval.

You can find out if your property is in a 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area using our online tool.

The 10/50 scheme is supported by the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice.

Image showing the clearing of trees within 10 metres of a home and vegetation within 50 metres of a home

10/50 Review report recommendations announced

A review of the 10/50 scheme has been conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service, Department of Planning and Environment, and the Office of Environment and Heritage. The review has now been completed and a copy of the final report is available here.

Thirty recommendations have been made. The NSW Government is now in the process of implementing these recommendations.

Check the online tool on the day you are clearing

Check the online tool on the day you are clearing to re-confirm your eligibility to clear vegetation under the 10/50 Scheme. This is because the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area, the excluded matters or other rules may have changed.  It is important to know that you must follow the eligibility or rules in place at the time you clear any vegetation.

You may only clear your own land.

Important changes to the 10/50 scheme

Further changes have been announced to the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme. Legislative changes came into effect on 28 August 2015 and the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice has now been amended and takes effect commencing 4 September 2015.

You must now consider how the following changes affect your clearing proposal:

  1. The definition of a tree has been amended to include multi-stemmed trees. This means you can no longer remove multi-stemmed trees beyond 10 metres.
  2. The distance at which a tree may be removed has been clarified. You may only remove a tree if any part of the trunk that measures more than 30 centimetres in circumference (around the trunk) at a height of 1.3 metres above the ground, is within 10 metres of the external wall of the building.
  3. If you are using the distance from a building on your neighbours land to use the 10/50 entitlement (and your buildings are not within 10 metres or 50 metres respectively), you must receive their written consent. Where the tree or vegetation is within 10 metres or 50 metres respectively of buildings on more than one adjoining parcel of land, you must receive written consent from each landowner who adjoins your land.
  4. Clearing adjacent to farm sheds is now permitted under the 10/50 scheme.

A range of other changes to the 10/50 scheme are now in place in accordance with the commencement of the amended 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice. Please review the amended Code of Practice and FAQs below in relation to your proposed clearing.

Changes to areas covered by the rule

The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme was introduced following the devastating 2013 bush fires in which more than 200 properties were destroyed.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), in partnership with the Department of Planning and Environment and the Office of Environment and Heritage, undertook a formal review of the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme. It is clear from some submissions and feedback that while the scheme is designed to reduce bush fire risk, there has been some abuse of the fuel reduction provisions for other purposes.

As a result of the review of the 10/50 scheme, the entitlement area has been amended. The reduced entitlement area of 100m from higher risk vegetation has been maintained, covering 85 per cent of properties historically destroyed in a bush fire.

The easiest way to work out if you're covered by the eligible area is checking our online tool. The tool contains the latest information on areas covered by the rule.

Prepare your home and families

The NSW RFS provides extensive information and resources to assist people interested in preparing their homes and families against the risk of bush fires. Try some of the useful links below for more information:

Frequently Asked Questions

A series of frequently asked questions has been published to provide additional information and can be accessed below. Simply click on a question to expand the answer.

What do the changes mean for me?

The 10/50 online tool has been updated to reflect the changes outlined above. If you've already used the online tool to assess your parcel of land, you should check again to see if the entitlement area has changed before clearing any vegetation.

You should always check the online tool on the day you are clearing to re-confirm your eligibility to clear vegetation under the 10/50 Code. This is because the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area, the excluded matters or other rules may have changed. It is important to know that you must follow the eligibility and rules in place at the time you clear any vegetation.

You should retain a copy of your online tool search output for your records as evidence the 10/50 rules were applicable to your clearing on the day you undertook the clearing.

What does the 10/50 rule allow me to do?

If you have a parcel of land within an identified 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area, the scheme allows you to:

  • Clear trees on your property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking approval; and
  • Clear underlying vegetation (other than trees) such as shrubs on your property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval.

There may be other restrictions that apply, such as if your property is on a slope, or there are items of Aboriginal or cultural significance in the area. Find out more below.

Who do the rules apply to?

The 10/50 Code only applies to parcels of land that are in a designated 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area. Use the 10/50 online tool to determine if your land parcel is eligible.

However, clearing can only be done if you are the landowner or you have the approval of the landowner. Landowner is defined in the 10/50.

The 10/50 Code does not place a requirement on landowners to clear trees or vegetation if they do not wish to take that action.  it is a tool available to help improve protection against bush fires, if landowners wish to take that action.

How can I find out if I'm in a 10/50 eligible area?

You can search for your parcel of land to see if your parcel is in 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area.

If your property is made up of more than a single parcel of land (Lot) then you need to check the entitlement for each parcel of land (Lot). This is because the entitlement may differ between adjoining parcels of land if you are at the boundary of the entitlement area.

The online tool will also let you know if any environmental or cultural exclusions apply to your land. See FAQ below 'How do I know which exclusions apply to my land?'.

How do I locate my land using the online tool?

Type in your address (in full) and then select your address from the drop-down list. Once selected you should see a marker placed on your land. If this is your land then click the 'Get Results' button to determine whether the selected parcel of land is in the entitlement area.

If your property contains more than a single parcel of land (Lot) then you will need to check each parcel to determine if the entitlement area applies to each separate parcel for which you are seeking to clear.

What should I do if I cannot locate my land using the online tool?

If you search for your property and you see a pop-up error box that reads 'We cannot locate your address on the map' then you should consider the following:

The tool works using Google, and Google may not recognise your address. This may be because Google has your suburb or street identified differently to you.

Try clicking the 'OK' button, then click on the marker and drag to your property. If your property is part of a larger land parcel (i.e. your subdivision has not yet been mapped), select that larger land parcel that includes the location of your land and click the Get Results button.

If you still cannot locate your property, enter and search on the name of the closest cross street, and select from the drop-down list and drag the marker to your property.

Google will show your address on the map at a standard scale.  You will need to check your boundary and adjust the scale if needed to confirm it is the right block.

If you continue to have difficulty with the online tool you should consider downloading and using Google Chrome as your web browser.

I'm outside the 10/50 area, how can I clear a tree or other vegetation?

If you are not in the 10/50 entitlement area you should contact your local Council or local Land Services Office to discuss your options for legally clearing the vegetation.

I'm inside the 10/50 entitlement area but am excluded from the 10/50 Code, how can I clear a tree or other vegetation?

If you are not in the 10/50 entitlement area you should contact your local Council or Local Land Services Office to discuss your options for legally clearing the vegetation.

You may also contact your local NSW RFS District Office if you are seeking advice regarding your land and bush fire hazard management.

Do I have to clear vegetation if I'm in an eligible 10/50 area?

No. The 10/50 Code allows you to clear, but not does require it. You may contact your local NSW RFS District Office if you are seeking advice regarding your land and bush fire hazard management.

What if the vegetation is on a neighbouring block?

You may not clear any neighbouring land.

You can ask neighbours to clear if the vegetation on their land is within 10 metres or 50 metres of your building. However they may only clear if their parcel of land is also in the 10/50 entitlement area.

Your neighbours (public or private) are not required to clear simply because they are in the 10/50 clearing entitlement area or because you would like them to.

If you believe there is a bush fire hazard on neighbouring land that is not being addressed then you can make a bush fire hazard complaint by contacting your local NSW RFS District Office.

You may prune branches within 10 metres of your building where those branches are overhanging your land from a tree on your neighbour's land, however you will need to comply with a range of conditions. For more information refer to the Frequently Asked Question below – 'Are there any conditions when pruning trees?'

If a tree trunk (or trunks) occurs across two or more properties, the approval of all landowners is required for removal of the tree.

Can I clear trees/vegetation on my land if the building I am seeking to protect is on my neighbours land?

If you do not have an external wall of a building on your land and are relying on an external wall of a building on adjoining land to authorise the clearing of trees/vegetation on your land; then you must obtain the written consent of each owner of adjoining land on which there is an external wall of a building that could be used to authorise the clearing. The landowner is the owner at the time the tree or vegetation is removed.

For example, a tree on a person’s land that is more than 10 metres away from the person’s home but which is within 10 metres of the homes of two neighbours could be removed only if both of those neighbours provide written consent.

What kind of buildings does the 10/50 rule cover?

You can clear vegetation near the external walls of a building containing habitable rooms such as a home, tourist or visitor accommodation, caravans that are in caravan parks, and manufactured homes installed in manufactured home estates.

You can also clear vegetation near the external walls of high risk facilities including child care centres, hospitals and schools (but not tertiary institutions such as Universities, Colleges or TAFE’s).You may also clear vegetation near the external walls of a building that comprises or is part of a farm shed (as defined under the 10/50 Code).

The building must also be one that has been approved with provision for habitable rooms by a Development Consent or other lawful authority. If the building has been constructed without consent or lawful authority, the 10/50 Code does not apply. Note that farm sheds are not required to have habitable rooms.

More information on the types of buildings and the definitions of habitable rooms and external walls is contained in the 10/50 Code of Practice.

Be aware that exempt developments such as decks which have been constructed according to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 are excluded from the definition of ‘external wall’. These structures are not to be used as a means, for example,  of extending the development footprint to within 10 metres of a tree that a landowner wishes to remove under the 10/50 Code. This is because structures such as decks are required to be made of non-combustible material to be considered exempt development.

Can I clear vegetation around an ecotourism facility under the 10/50 Code?

No. Ecotourism facilities provide accommodation located in natural areas that are environmentally sustainable. Due to the environmental constraints inherent in ecotourism facilities, special emphasis is given to emergency planning and management, and the provision of onsite sheltering as a last resort. These matters are addressed during the development consent process.

Ecotourism facilities were excluded from the operation of the 10/50 rules when it was introduced on 1 August 2014 on the basis that their inclusion could potentially result in unintended clearing being undertaken in these areas.

Can I clear vegetation if my house is not yet constructed but I have Development Consent?

No. You may only clear once the building has been constructed.

Can I clear vegetation if my house is constructed but I do not have an Occupation Certificate yet?

No. You may only clear once there is a lawful authority for the occupancy of the building (such as a final occupation certificate where relevant). An interim occupation certificate is not considered a lawful authority for occupancy for the purpose of the 10/50 Code. The rules for lawful occupancy will vary depending on when the building was approved. Your local council can provide advice regarding your specific circumstance.

I rent or lease my land. Can I clear vegetation?

Clearing can only be done if you are the landowner or you have the approval of the landowner. If you rent your land, you will need to obtain the approval from the landowner first. More information on the definition of the ‘owner’ of land is contained in the 10/50 Code of Practice.

It is recommended you keep written evidence of the approval.

Where do I measure the 10 or 50 metres from?

The distance is from the external walls of the building. It includes permanent fixed structures such as decks, verandahs, pergolas and garages that are attached to the building. It does not include detached garages, sheds, water tanks and the like, or constructions such as paved or concreted areas.

With respect to farm sheds, external walls refer to the external walls of a farm shed or the line between two support posts in the event that the farm shed does not have a wall.

Note that exempt developments such as decks which have been constructed according to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes 2008) are excluded from the definition of external walls. This is because these structures are required to be made of non-combustible material.

In addition, you may only remove a tree if part of a trunk of the tree (at a height of 1.3 metres above the ground) has a circumference of more than 30 centi metres within 10 metres of the external wall of the building.

Does the 10/50 Code apply to both native and introduced vegetation?

Yes the 10/50 Code applies to any vegetation whether a native or introduced species.

How do I know which conditions apply to my property?

You may only clear in accordance with the rules in the 10/50 Code of Practice. You must read the 10/50 Code and apply the conditions to your land.

If your land has the potential for any od the following listed matters, then the online tool will identify this in your search results. Your search results will also advise you of the associated conditions.

  •  
  • SEPP 14 Coastal Wetlands
  •  
  • Wetlands in the Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
  •  
  • Wetlands in the Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 20 – Hawkesbury Nepean River (No 2 – 1997)
  •  
  • SEPP 26 Littoral Rainforest (not including the 100 metre buffer)
  •  
  • Specified Koala habitat in Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management
  •  
  • World Heritage properties
  •  
  • Ramsar Wetlands
  •  
  • Vegetation of high environmental significance identified as part of the bio-certification of the Sydney Region Growth Centres
  •  
  • Within 100 metres of the coastline or estuaries of New South Wales
  •  
  • Lord Howe Island
  •  
  • Critically Endangered Plants
  •  
  • Land mapped as Critical Habitat
  •  
  • The following Critically Endangered Ecological Communities.
  •  
  • Agnes Bank woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  •  
  • Blue Gum High Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  •  
  • Cumberland Plain Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  •  
  • Elderslie Banksia Scrub Forest
  •  
  • Hygrocybeae community of Lane Cove Bushland Park in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  •  
  • Kincumber Scribbly Gum Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  •  
  • Shale Sandstone Transition Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  •  
  • Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  •   
  • Any land that is dedicated or reserved, or acquired for the purpose of dedication or reservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
  •  
  • Aboriginal Place
  •  
  • Aboriginal culturally modified tree (scarred tree)
  •  
  • NSW State heritage
  •  
  • local heritage

There are other conditions that must be complied with, refer to the 10/50 Code for further information.

Which features do I need to identify as they are not mapped in the online tool?

Mangroves and coastal saltmarsh are as described in NSW Department of Primary Industries Primefact 746 May 2008 – Mangroves, and Primefact 1256 March 2013 – Coastal saltmarsh prepared by NSW Fisheries and may not be cleared under the 10/50 Code. Riparian areas adjacent to rivers and lakes as defined in the 10/50 Code. You will need to check your land to see if a riparian buffer is required. For more information see FAQ Can I clear vegetation near waterways? Limitations on clearing occur on slopes of more than 18 degrees. You are responsible for determining the slope of the area you wish to clear. For more information see FAQ What if the tree I want to clear is on a slope?

Can I burn vegetation under the 10/50 rule?

You cannot use the 10/50 Code as an exemption from, or to obtain approval for, burning vegetation.

Refer to the NSW RFS publication 'Before You Light That Fire' or contact your local NSW RFS District if you are seeking further information on burning and the types of approvals that may be required.

Be aware that it is against the law to illegally dump any vegetation.

Are there any conditions when pruning trees?

You can prune any vegetation within 10 metres of the building, or any vegetation other than trees within 50 metres of the building.

Pruning of trees must be in accordance with AS 4373-2007 Pruning of amenity trees. AS 4373-2007 is an Australian Standard for tree pruning that provides for trees to remain safe and healthy after branches are pruned. A copy of the Standard can be purchased from Standards Australia through their website www.standards.org.au.

If the trunk of a tree is greater than 10 metres from the building you may clear any branches within 10 metres of the building. However, you may only prune in accordance with the Australian Standard. This may mean that you need to prune branches beyond the 10 metre boundary in order to balance the tree and meet the Australian Standard. If this is the case, then you should confirm with Council as to whether they require approval for the pruning that is greater than 10 metres. You will need to do this before you commence any pruning of the tree. If you plan to prune branches from a neighbour's tree that overhangs your land, you will need to determine whether pruning of the branches on their side is also required in order to balance the tree and meet the Australian Standard. If this is the case, then you will need their consent to prune the trees on their side. They must also comply with the 10/50 Code or have other lawful authority for the pruning on their land. You will need to do this before you commence any pruning of the tree.

In addition, if your land is on a slope of more than 18 degrees, pruning can only be done if at least 75% of the canopy is retained, except if there are conditions identified in a Geotechnical Engineer Assessment Report.

Should I seek the services of a professional when pruning or removing a tree?

It is your responsibility to ensure tree removal and pruning is undertaken safely. You should always use reputable and professional tree services.

You should consider hiring only trained and qualified tree removal services. There are professional associations such as Tree Contractors Association Australia, the National Arborist Association of Australia, Arboriculture Australia, and the Institute of Foresters of Australia that can provide advice. Most Councils will also have information on recommended qualifications for arborists. Be aware that membership of an association does not always guarantee qualifications.

Tree removal does not require a trade licence in Australia. You should assure yourself that operators are appropriately qualified for the work being undertaken. TAFE NSW delivers training ranging from a Statement of Attainment, Certificate II, III and IV to Diploma level (also known as AQF levels 1-5. Be aware that untrained people may claim to be qualified. Therefore you should sight evidence of their qualifications.

You should check that any quotes from contractors include reference to meeting the NSW WorkCover Code of Practice for the Amenity Tree Industry. This provides a minimum set of standards for work place safety.

You should check that the service provider you use has current and appropriate insurances such as workers compensation, and personal and public liability insurance. You can also contact the insurance company to check that the policy is current and covers the type of work being undertaken. Your home insurance policy is unlikely to cover tree works. Tree removal services should also be licensed as a business and have an Australian Business Number (ABN).

What is considered a tree?

Under the 10/50 Code, a tree is a perennial woody plant that is 3 or more metres in height and that has one or more self-supporting trunks, at least one of which has a circumference (at a height of 1.3 metres above ground) of more than 30 centimetres.

A tree does not include a shrub, which is a small low growing woody plant with multiple stems, or a vine which is a woody plant that depends on an erect substrate to grow on.

Remember that you may only remove a tree if part of a trunk of the tree (at a height of 1.3 metres above the ground) has a circumference of more than 30 centimetres within 10 metres of the external wall of the building.

Can I clear vegetation contrary to Tree Preservation Orders?

Yes. You may clear trees that would otherwise be protected by a Tree Preservation Order if you clear in accordance with the 10/50 Code. You are not required to advise your local Council.

Can I clear vegetation contrary to my Development Consent conditions?

No. You may not clear trees or other vegetation under the 10/50 Code contrary to conditions in your Development Consent or other approval s under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. For example, if your Development Consent requires you to retain specified trees then you may not clear them. Contact your local council for a copy of your Development Consent conditions.

Can I clear vegetation contrary to any instrument under Section 88B of the Conveyancing Act 1919?

No. You may not clear trees or other vegetation under the 10/50 Code contrary to any covenants or other restrictions under section 88B of the Conveyancing Act 1919.

Can I clear vegetation contrary to Land and Environment Court Orders or other Orders?

No. You may not clear trees or other vegetation under the 10/50 Code contrary to any applicable Land and Environment Court Order; or any other Court Order under the Criminal Appeal Act 1912, District Court Act 1973, Land and Environment Court Act 1979, Local Court Act 2007, Supreme Court Act 1970, or any order by a Court constituted under any of those Acts.

Can I clear vegetation contrary to Stop Work Orders, Interim Protection Orders or Remediation Directions?

No. You may not clear trees or other vegetation under the 10/50 Code contrary to any Stop Work Order, Interim Protection Order or Remediation Direction under Part 6A of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

What if there's a land management agreement covering my property?

Clearing under this 10/50 Code cannot be inconsistent with any of the following land management agreements:

  • any conservation agreement entered into under Division 12 of Part 4 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974,
  • any Trust Agreement entered into under Part 3 of the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001,
  • any property management plan approved by the Director-General of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service under section 113B of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, or
  • any Property Vegetation Plan agreement entered into under Part 4 of the Native Vegetation Act 2003, or
  • any Biobanking Agreement entered into under Part 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation (Biodiversity Banking) Regulation 2008.

Contact the Office of Environment and Heritage if you are seeking further advice regarding the above land management agreements.

In addition, you may not clear vegetation on your land if your land is subject to a conservation measure pursuant to an order for Biodiversity Certification under the Sydney Region Growth Centres programme.

Do I need to consider impacts on threatened species?

You may not clear trees or other vegetation under the 10/50 Code if your land has been identified by the online tool as containing critical habitat, critically endangered plants or one of the listed critically endangered ecological communities listed below.

  • Agnes Bank Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  • Blue Gum High Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  • Cumberland Plain Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  • Elderslie Banksia Scrub Forest
  • Hygrocybeae community of Lane Cove Bushland Park in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  • Kincumber Scribbly Gum Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  • Shale Sandstone Transition Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
  • Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion

The 10/50 Code does not require you to consider any other threatened species, populations or ecological communities that would otherwise be protected under NSW laws.

However, you need to be aware that clearing in accordance with the 10/50 Code of Practice does not provide you with an approval under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). State laws cannot override Commonwealth laws. As such, the NSW RFS online tool does not provide advice on these matters.

See the Commonwealth Department of Environment's Fact Sheet on Bushfire Management and National Environment Law for further information.

You should contact the Commonwealth Department of Environment if you are seeking advice on the EPBC Act.

Do I have a responsibility to avoid harm to wildlife?

Yes. Landowners have a duty of care to avoid cruelty and harm to native, introduced or domestic animals when clearing trees and vegetation in accordance with the 10/50 Code. It is important that landowners are aware that clearing of trees and vegetation under the 10/50 Scheme can result in harm to native animals and loss of their natural habitat.

Accidental/incidental injury to wildlife is not a focus of compliance enforcement, consistent with the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecution’s guidelines. However, deliberate cruelty to animals may be subject to prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.

You should take care to minimise your potential for harming wildlife such as having tree hollows checked and looking for active bird nests and tree dwelling animals such as koalas and possums.

If you witness any displaced, orphaned or injured wildlife you should contact the Office of Environment and Heritage, or licensed fauna rehabilitation group for assistance. Visit the fauna rehab page of the Office of Environment and Heritage website  for further advice and a full list of licensed providers such as the WIRES Wildlife Rescue group.

Only people authorised under an Office of Environment and Heritage  wildlife licence may take a native animal into care. Rehabilitating a native animal without an authority is illegal and can lead to prosecution. You are not allowed to keep rescued native animals as pets.

Landowners who clear trees and vegetation under the 10/50 Scheme are not exempt from prosecution under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 for harm to protected fauna, or for deliberate cruelty to animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. Operating in accordance with the 10/50 Code does not absolve the landowner from their responsibility for avoiding harm to protected fauna or deliberate cruelty to animals. Note: ‘protected fauna’ is as defined in the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

What if the tree I want to clear is on a slope?

Some land may be susceptible to erosion or landslip. You cannot clear trees on slopes greater than 18 degrees on your land except in accordance with conditions identified in a Geotechnical Engineer Assessment Report.In addition, if your land is on a slope of more than 18 degrees, pruning can only be done if at least 75% of the canopy is retained, except if there are conditions identified in a Geotechnical Engineer Assessment Report.If you are unsure as to whether the tree you want to clear is located on a slope of more than 18 degrees you should seek professional advice i.e. from a surveyor or other appropriately qualified professional.

Are there any restrictions on clearing methods?

Yes. You can not use clearing methods that disturb the soil profile, such as graders, ploughs or dozers (or other types of heavy machinery that are designed to break the soil surface such as excavators).

To manage soil erosion and landslip risks:

  • there is to be no disturbance of the soil.
  • vegetation must not be removed below the soil surface
  • retain a protective ground cover on the soil surface
  • all topsoil must remain on the soil surface.

You cannot use the 10/50 Code as an exemption or to obtain approval for burning vegetation.

Refer to 'Before You Light That Fire' or contact your local NSW RFS District if you are seeking further information on burning and the types of approvals that may be required.

Who is responsible for soil erosion and landslip?

Landowners have a duty of care in the appropriate management of soil erosion and landslip risks when clearing trees and vegetation under the 10/50 Code. Landowners who clear trees and vegetation under the 10/50 Code are not exempt from liability. For example, action may be pursued by a party that suffers as a result of a landslip due to actions taken on your land. It is the responsibility of landowners to seek expert advice in relation to these matters. The conditions in the 10/50 Code have been put in place to assist landowners in the management of vegetation, however, operating in accordance with the 10/50 Code including these conditions does not absolve the landowner from their responsibility for landslip and erosion issues.

Can I clear vegetation near waterways?

No. The clearing of trees or other vegetation is not allowed within 10 metres of a lake or river that is 2 metres or more in width between the highest opposite banks. You will need to determine if there are any lakes or rivers on your land and the width of the river. You will also need to provide a buffer for any lakes or rivers on adjoining land if they are within 10 metres of your proposed clearing.

The distance (metres) is measured from the highest bank or tidal limit if there is no defined high bank. This applies to either side of the river, or around the lake.Lakes and rivers are defined below:

‘lake’ includes:

  1. a lake, a wetland, a lagoon, a saltmarsh and any collection of still water, whether perennial or intermittent and whether natural or a natural body of water artificially modified, and whether or not it also forms part of a river or estuary.

‘river’ includes:

  1. any watercourse, whether perennial or intermittent and whether comprising a natural channel or a natural channel artificially modified, and
  2. any tributary, branch or other watercourse into or from which a watercourse referred to in paragraph (a) flows, and whether or not it also forms part of a lake or estuary.

How will I know if there is Aboriginial heritage on my land?

The online tool will identify whether there may be an Aboriginal Place or an Aboriginal culturally modified tree (scarred tree) on your land.

No clearing is allowed under the 10/50 Code if your land parcel has been identified by the online tool as being wholly or partially within areas mapped in the online tool as containing an Aboriginal Place.

Landowners who are informed by the online tool that their land parcel may contain an Aboriginal culturally modified tree (scarred tree) are required to determine if the tree/s they wish to clear meet the criteria of an Aboriginal scarred tree as described in the Office of Environment and Heritage’s field manual for Aboriginal scarred trees in New South Wales. An Aboriginal scarred tree may not be cleared.

How will I know if there are other heritage values on my land?

The online tool will identify whether there may be NSW State heritage or local heritage on your land.

No clearing is allowed under the 10/50 Code if your land parcel has been identified by the online tool as being wholly or partially within areas mapped in the online tool as containing NSW State heritage (i.e. listed on the State Heritage Register) may not be cleared.

No clearing is allowed under the 10/50 Code if your land parcel has been identified by the online tool as being wholly or partially within areas mapped in the online tool as containing local heritage listed on councils Local Environment Plans.

What do I do if I have been issued a notice to manage trees around powerlines from my energy network provider?

The Electricity Supply Act 1995 requires landowners to keep trees on their property a safe distance from powerlines all year round. Your network provider may notify you in writing of trees and branches that are too close to powerlines.

You should contact your network provider for any questions including the safety requirements. Working near powerlines is dangerous.

The 10/50 Code does not provide for clearing trees or vegetation around powerlines. Your network provider can advise you regarding your environmental approval options under the Electricity Supply Act 1995.

Network providers include Ausgrid, Essential Energy, and Endeavour Energy.

How can I get a copy of the 10/50 Code of Practice?

You can download the Code of Practice from this website. Alternatively contact your local NSW RFS District Office for a copy.

The 10/50 rule has been reviewed. How can I see the review report?

A review of the 10/50 rule was undertaken by the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Department of Planning and Environment, and the Office of Environment and Heritage. Public submissions closed on 14 November 2014. You can download a copy of the review report below:

What if my question isn't listed here?

Email 10.50@rfs.nsw.gov.au with your address, contact details and and we can provide advice.