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In May, the State Government introduced an amendment to the Catchment and Land Protection Act to make it clear that local councils are responsible for weed and pest animal control on municipal roadsides.

Efforts to control roadside weeds and pests have been hampered for years, because of uncertainty among local councils and private landowners about who has the responsibility for the control works. The council will now be responsible for management and control of Regionally Prohibited and Regionally Controlled weeds on municipal roadsides. Regionally Controlled weeds in the Surf Coast Shire include African Box-thorn, Blackberries, Boneseed, Flax-leaf Broom, Gorse, Montpellier Broom, Angled Onion, Bulbil Watsonia, Ragwort and Serrated Tussock.

I think giving local councils the responsibility to control the above noxious weeds on municipal roadsides is a very promising and common sense development.

Recognizing that council resources and State Government funding for pest plant and animal management are not infinite, the Bill does protect councils from being issued with an infringement notice under the Catchment and Land Protection Act, if the council has an approved Roadside Weed and Pest Animal Management Plan in place, and is implementing the plan. The plan must set out a program of reasonable measures to be undertaken by councils to reduce the adverse impact of identified Regionally Prohibited and Regionally Controlled weeds and pest plants on municipal roadsides and surrounding land.

Angair has had discussions with officers from the Surf Coast Shire regarding Pest Plant and Animal priorities for 2013–2015. Currently, the priorities mainly address rural roadsides adjoining agricultural land. However, I think the current amendment also gives the council the responsibility to control Regionally Controlled and Prohibited weeds on urban municipal roadways in Anglesea or Aireys Inlet.

Dr Nigel Ainsworth, Principal Policy Officer, Invasive Plants, Biosecurity Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, has stated there is a provision under the Local Government Act 1989 for councils to enact local by-laws targeting specific weeds. As well as the list of Regionally Controlled weeds, we need the Surf Coast Shire to control other important environmental weeds including Sallow Wattle, Blue Bell Creeper, Sweet Pittosporum, Polygala and Coast Tea-tree on municipal roadsides in Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.

Acknowledgement: Leanne Rolfe, Environment Officer, Surf Coast Shire, provided media releases on the amendment and a link to the Legislative amendment.

Carl Rayner