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Clearing Fencelines

If you are the owner of the property, you may clear a strip along a fence line within your property to the width necessary to provide access to construct or maintain a fence, provided that the clearing, combined with other limited exempt clearing (under the Regulations) on the property, does not exceed five hectares in the financial year in which the clearing takes place.

This means that if you clear for any of the following purposes, the clearing must not add up to more than five hectares in total for all exemptions, per financial year.

  • Clearing to construct a building
  • Clearing to collect firewood
  • Clearing to obtain fencing or farming materials
  • Clearing for woodwork
  • Clearing for fence lines
  • Clearing for vehicular tracks
  • Clearing for walking tracks
  • Clearing isolated trees


(Fact sheet found here-

 The onus is on the landowner and any other person carrying out the clearing on their behalf, to ensure compliance with the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act), regardless of any advice given by the Shire.

 It is important to read the exemption as a whole which is made up of the following requirements or elements:

  1. It authorises the clearing of native vegetation on Crown land along a fence line; and
  2. The clearing can only be for the purpose of providing access to construct or maintain a fence between private property and Crown land; and
  3. (as a limitation to these first two parts of the exemption) –the clearing can be no more than 1.5 metres from the fence line.

 If the intended clearing does not satisfy all of these requirements then the exemption does not apply, and a clearing permit is required from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.


  1. The cleared tree pictured above is within Crown land and is along a fence line;
  2. The cleared tree was preventing the property owner from being able to access and construct the new fence;
  3. The cleared tree is less than 1.5 metres away from the fence line. 

This clearing is authorised by the exemption.

  1. The tree is within Crown land and is along a fence line;
  2. The tree does not prevent the owner from being able to access and construct the new fence;
  3. The tree is less than 1.5 metres away from the fence line. 

The clearing of the tree would not be authorised by the exemption

Further examples; 

Although a tree may have limbs that overhang a fence and there is a possibility that a tree limb could fall and damage the fence at a later point in time, the tree cannot be cleared under this exemption unless all three requirements are met. If the limbs do not impede access to the area to construct or maintain the fence (the second requirement) the exemption would not apply and a clearing permit issued by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation would be required. The limb itself could be removed (pruned) as it would not constitute ‘clearing’ as defined under the EP Act if the removal of this limb does not cause substantial damage to the tree and the trunk of the tree is not severed.

This exemption does not authorise the wholesale clearing of all native vegetation on the Crown land within 1.5 metres of the fence line, it only authorises the clearing of as much vegetation as is necessary “to provide access to construct or maintain a fence”. Any clearing undertaken must be done in such a way to limit damage to neighbouring vegetation.

If the vegetation is recognised as a Threatened Ecological Community then it will trigger state and federal legislation requirements as areas recognised with ‘national ecological significance’. These areas are not necessarily covered by the exemptions and a permit to clear issued by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation will be required.

Please note that all cleared materials must be removed from the area and not pushed and/or stored on the adjacent Crown or neighbouring land that is not owned by the landholder conducting the clearing.

Unauthorised Clearing

Unauthorised Clearing of Native Vegetation in Western Australia without authorisation is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1986. Unlawful clearing by individuals can result in fines of up to $250,000. Guidelines on clearing exemptions and applications for clearing permits are available on the DWER website


Written approval from the Shire of Northam

The Shire of Northam will provide written confirmation, as manager of crown land road reserves, for the adjacent land owner to clear within the conditions listed above. This

requires written / email contact before the required fence line clearing, and the clearing must not have taken place before written approval has been obtained.

The request should include:

  • Where the fence line is to be cleared, accurately indicated on a map;
  • When it will be done;
  • Who will do it (is there a contractor); and,
  • Before photos (after will be requested upon clearing)

This written approval process will allow shared understanding and acceptance of the requirements under legislation, allow the Shrie to conduct any necessarily environmental inspections and protection measures, and the option for the Shire to consider aligning its own road maintenance schedule with the fence line clearing.