Our Environment

Our environment trees on roadside

1. Weeds and the Biosecurity Act 2015

Many people may not have heard about the changes to NSW weed control and legislation that have come in over the last few years.

On the 1st July 2017, the Biosecurity Act 2015 came into force, replacing the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 and several other acts and regulations.

The Biosecurity Act covers not only Weeds, but also animal and insect pests, diseases and many other things that could pose a threat to human health, agriculture and the environment.

Regarding weeds in particular, the term “Noxious” has been removed from all legislation and other publications. The term “Noxious weeds” is also no longer used, and has been replaced most commonly by the term “Priority weeds”. Under the Biosecurity Act, “Priority weeds” are weeds that have been determined as being of a high risk of causing significant negative impacts to agriculture, the environment, the community and our economy.

The responsibility of controlling weeds and preventing their spread is known as a “General Biosecurity Duty”. All landowners, government agencies and contractors have an obligation or “General Biosecurity Duty” to ensure that their Weeds issues do not affect any other landholder or enterprise.

Bland Shire Council Weeds Officers are now known as Biosecurity Officers and are happy to help you with any concerns regarding weeds.

Councils Role

As a land manager, Council must prevent, eliminate or minimise the risk posed by weeds found on land under its control. As the Local Control Authority, Council is responsible for administering and enforcing the Biosecurity Act 2015 in respect to weeds. This includes inspecting private and public lands to ensure owners/managers of land carry out their obligations.

Your Role in Weed Control

If a weed poses a biosecurity risk in a particular area, but is not the subject of any specific legislation, Council’s Authorised Officers may rely on the land owner's or land manager's 'general biosecurity duty' to manage that weed or prevent its spread.

If Council’s Authorised Officers believe that the owner/occupier of the land is failing in their biosecurity duty to control weeds on their land then they can issue a Biosecurity Direction to prevent, eliminate or minimise the biosecurity risk. 

Legislation management tools that can be used are:

  • General Biosecurity duty
  • Individual Biosecurity Direction to control weeds
  • Biosecurity undertakings to control weeds

General Biosecurity Duty Applies To Everyone

Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Section 22 of the Biosecurity Act states that: any person (this means individual, company, organisation, corporation or body politic) who deals with biosecurity matter or a carrier and who knows, or ought reasonably to know, the biosecurity risk posed or likely to be posed by the biosecurity matter, carrier or dealing, has a biosecurity duty to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the biosecurity risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised.

For more information, contact Council’s Biosecurity Officers or review the documents below -

Biosecurity-Act-FAQs.pdf(PDF, 441KB)

General-biosecurity-duty-with-diagram.pdf(PDF, 451KB)

NSW-legislation-Biosecurity-Act-2015.pdf(PDF, 982KB)

2. Riverina Strategic Weeds Management Plan 

Bland Shire Council is a member of the Riverina Regional Weeds Committee, made up of a group of 15 Local Government areas (Council areas), Local Land Services, and other stakeholders within the region.

As a member of this Committee, Bland Shire Council assisted in developing the Riverina Strategic Weeds Management Plan. This representation allows input into the development of Weed management Plans and objectives that affects and guides how our Council carries out our Weed management responsibilities.

Access the Riverina Strategic Weeds Management Plan here(PDF, 2MB)

3. Fruit Fly

Fruit Fly control is no longer regulated. This means that government agencies, including Councils, do not carry out Fruit Fly control. Even the Griffith/MIA region is no longer protected by Department of Agriculture bait spraying programs or through restricting movement of fruit into these areas.

It is up to the individual to protect their own fruit, whether it is back yards or major commercial orchards.

Steps to take in managing Fruit Fly are -

  •  Setting up traps to monitor presence of flies
  •  Use of bait spraying and Fruit Fly pots (which can be home made)
  •  Picking up fallen fruit
  •  Pruning or removing unwanted trees
  •  Netting vegetable gardens or bagging individual fruit

More information about Fruit Fly is available HERE or by contacting your Local Land Services office in West Wyalong.

4.  Spiny Burr Grass

A Spiny Problem

Spiny Burr Grass

Bland Shire Council biosecurity weeds staff have installed signage to warn the public about the presence of Spiny Burr Grass.

This work follows on from the installation of red guide posts to identify infestations of Spiny Burr Grass on roadsides.

The posts are designed to alert the general public, councils operational staff and contractors of the dangers of movement through these areas. They are red in colour and labeled with the letters: BSC SBG.

The red guide post program is used throughout the state to identify areas with significant priority weed infestations.

Spiny Burr grass is a serious weed threat to the Bland Shire region. Infestations have now established on several properties and many roadside, railway and other areas.

Spiny Burr grass is a spreading annual grass, usually ranging from 30-60 cm in height. It germinates in spring/summer, growing through to autumn. It appears very similar to many other grasses, and is hard to identify until mature when it develops a spiny burr about the size and shape of a common Cathead, or Caltrop burr.

Several of these burrs can occur on the top of each stem and can number anywhere from 20 – 200 per plant. The spines of the burr are needle sharp and barbed, and are able to penetrate and adhere to almost anything they come in contact with. The seed spreads extremely easily through the ability of the barbed burr to cling to wool, fur, clothing and tyres. Wind and water can also move the burr readily.

Shearing of infested sheep can be a very difficult and painful process for shearers and wool handlers. It can also cause lameness in dogs and sheep. Because of its ability to spread, movement of sheep can be made very difficult. Spiny Burr grass seed may be easily spread when infested sheep are sold through sale yards, direct to other landholders, agisted on properties, or moved along roads.

Land owners need to be aware that under the Biosecurity Act 2015 the plant must be managed in a manner that prevents it from arriving and establishing, erradication if possible, or containment of widespread areas.  The Act highlights the obligations of affected landholders and the management and sale of stock- particularly sheep, or any other means of spread. This obligation is known as general biosecurity duty. 

Although Council carries out regular control work on roadsides, landholders should be very aware of the risks associated in moving stock or machinery along roadsides, rail lines or any other areas where infestations may occur. Areas should be physically checked prior to any movement and constant vigilance maintained.

To assist landholders and the general public, Council is working towards establishing a map of existing roadside and rail infestations on the Bland Shire Council website.

For further information, including locations of current infestations and control methods, please contact the Biosecurity Weeds Officer at Bland Shire Council.

5.  Red Guide Posts

Red Guide Posts are being installed along roadsides throughout the Riverina & Central Western NSW (by weed officers) to identify known locations of high risk noxious weeds.

The Red Guide Posts alert road users of the site they need to avoid to prevent further spread of noxious weeds along high risk pathways.

This project was funded through the NSW Government Weeds Action Program (WAP) New Innovative Projects; Murray LLS; Eastern Riverina Noxious Weeds Advisory Group; Western Riverina Noxious Weeds Advisory Group & Lachlan Valley Weeds Advisory Committee. More information is available at riverinaweeds.org.au

6. Illegal clearing, burning and dumping

In the past year, Council has had issues with various practices being carried out by landholders and the general public on road reserves (roadsides) without authorisation.

One such practice has been the clearing and/or burning of trees and other vegetation.

Apart from the obvious environmental impacts, this can be very dangerous as in one case where a fire got out of control and burnt out a long segment of road reserve. This in turn caused several trees to fall on or close to the road. This incident could quite easily have become much more serious.

Any form of clearing or burning is not permitted on Council road reserves without specific permission from Council. Fines apply.

Another practice has been the dumping of rubbish, particularly old fencing material and other waste on road reserves. This practice is illegal and can attract heavy penalties. It is also unsightly, and can cause animals to become entangled or poisoned.

No dumping of rubbish is permitted on road reserves or other Council land, excepting landfills within the Bland Shire region. Road reserves contain much of the regions’ rare and endangered species of plants and animals. They provide connectivity, allowing movement of wildlife from one area to another which is critical for their survival. They also provide shade and shelter to livestock on adjoining properties. As such they should be treated with care and respect.

Further information can be obtained by reading Bland Shire Councils’ Roadside Vegetation Management Guide available on Councils’ website, or by contacting Councils Environmental Officer.