Education, inspection and enforcement
QPRC are responsible for implementing priority weed control programs, including planning, education, training, inspection, enforcement and reporting. Council also works with the regional weeds committee to deliver the NSW Weeds Action Program via local management programs.
Biosecurity weeds education
The primary focus of Council’s biosecurity program is to educate everyone about biosecurity risks and encourage weed control activities. We have a regular inspection program that aims to have a Biosecurity Officer inspect properties every four years and provide a property-specific weed report. If you are a new land owner and would like information about weed issues in your locality please contact Council’s Biosecurity team.
If you are a member of a community group and would like a Biosecurity Weeds Officer to come to a local event, such as a community group meeting, please contact Council’s Biosecurity team.
Don’t forget to check out our online mini-conference, Biosecure WeedsCon 2020 where we launched a lot of short story videos on the latest in biosecurity weed management.
Inspection and enforcement process
Council’s weed inspection activities are scheduled on a risk management basis. While all properties are ideally inspected or surveyed once every four years, more frequent surveillance is required to protect priority assets, ensure control at priority weed sites and monitor for new weed arrivals.
The Biosecurity Act 2015 has strong powers, including the ability for authorised officers to enter any land (except residential premises) and inspect vehicles without notice. As part of Council’s normal practice we send a letter to the property owner prior to an inspection.
The biosecurity weeds compliance enforcement activity is the extreme outcome where a land owner/ manager or carrier has not complied with their legislative requirements. This may result in a biosecurity direction, court action and/or enforced control.
The comprehensive surveillance activity aims to rapidly assess every property every four years.
Outside of urban areas, every property in a particular locality is usually scheduled for inspection in the same period. On average the Biosecurity Officers complete more than 150 inspections every month.
While urban areas make up less than 1% of the Council area it is not practical to inspect every urban property. These areas are surveyed from public land without entering private properties unless there is a suspicion of a high priority weed being present.
The primary aim of this surveillance activity is to detect new incursions before they can establish, but also to monitor that any established weeds posing an impact are being properly managed.
Priority asset assessments
The priority asset assessments aim to inspect each priority asset a second time every four years, with an emphasis on reviewing the status of the asset and ensuring that the impacts from weeds are being regularly controlled. This activity recognises that weeds can grow a lot in four years and these assets are too valuable to risk the impacts of weeds becoming worse.
Often when widely established weeds are assessed through the weed risk management system it is determined that they cannot be eradicated or even contained. In reality the appropriate management outcome is to ‘protect priority assets’. These weeds only need to be actively managed where they are impacting on an identified priority asset.
So what exactly is a priority asset? QPRC’s Biosecurity team is actively working on several strategic projects to help define them. There are three broad types of assets, and we are starting to identify the best of the best in each case.
- Economic assets. Mostly the highly productive and valuable agricultural land where the agronomic industry would be significantly devalued by weed invasion.
- Environmental assets. There are around 100 native species and ecological communities threatened with extinction that occur within our region and about half of them have weed invasion specifically listed as a threat.
- Community assets. These are more difficult to define, but may include cultural heritage and recreational sites whose integrity or safe access is threatened by weeds.
Over time, priority assets being impacted by weeds will be mapped across the broader region and asset management plans developed. QPRC will inspect these sites more frequently to better ensure their ongoing protection.
Priority weed re-inspections
High priority weeds that need short term follow-up control are re-inspected within 12 months. Inspections are often timed to ensure weeds are being controlled prior to reproduction, to ensure that the infestations are not expanding from new seed.
This schedule of re-inspections is determined each year based on the outcome of recent inspections. At present there are around 100 properties with weeds we are trying to eradicate or contain (particularly Fireweed, Gorse, Madeira vine and Ox-eye daisy) and they are often inspected multiple times per year. Officers will also undertake a similar number of re-inspections where compliance action is needed for more widespread weeds that are posing an impact.
High risk pathway monitoring
The high risk pathways monitoring aims to survey major roads and inspect sites where there is a high risk of new weeds being imported from outside the region. The frequency is risk based, with high risk pathways and sites inspected annually, very high risk twice per year, and extreme risk three times per year.
Most pathways and sites have been defined in collaboration with the regional weeds committee to ensure a consistent monitoring program across south east NSW. Each side of 460km of State and regional roads is surveyed at least twice per year. Another 77 high risk sites (such as rest areas, campgrounds and nurseries) are inspected 1-3 times per year.
Of particular concern are weed species that we don’t currently have in our region, but are known to occur in the surrounding south east region. We need to prevent these from establishing here.
My neighbour is not controlling their weeds!
Council has an ongoing monitoring and compliance program.
If you are not satisfied that a land manager (public or private) is meeting their biosecurity duty then please contact Council’s Biosecurity team and we will review the complaint. If the weed is a high priority species requiring rapid response then we will deal with the request as a matter of urgency. For more established weeds we will check when the next scheduled inspection is for the property. If the next inspection is due soon we will check for compliance at that time. If the next inspection is not due in the near future we will write to the land owner and advise them that Council has received a complaint and remind them of their biosecurity duty for the priority weed(s) concerned. This correspondence will be recorded and taken into consideration during the next inspection.
If you wish to make a complaint about weed control please email/post it to Council, attention Team Leader Biosecurity Weeds. Please provide the following information:
- your contact details so we can obtain further information if required,
- the weed species you are concerned about,
- the address of the property(s) where that weed occurs, and
- why you believe the weeds are posing an impact (or have the potential to pose an impact)
If you wish to discuss the situation first, please call Council and ask to speak to the Team Leader Biosecurity Weeds.
QPRC Weeds Action Program