Environmental zones (E Zones)

Environmental Zones or 'E Zones' are designed to protect or manage land that is of important environmental value.

Applying E Zones and other LEP 2014 zones 

Council is implementing a review of E Zones in accordance with the Northern Councils E Zone Review Final Recommendations Report (2015) 

  • Step 1: confirm vegetation and primary land use
  • Step 2: apply E Zones (Planning proposals to amend Byron LEP 2014)

Given the scale of rezonings across the Shire, the process to apply environmental and other LEP 2014 zones, is being undertaken in multiple Planning Proposal stages.   A Planning Proposal is a legal document that explains the justification for the new zoning to be applied in Byron LEP 2014.

  • The second stage Planning Proposal for approximately 600 properties was publicly exhibition until 6 December 2019. 
  • The third stage Planning Proposal will include all remaining properties. Staff are continuing to work with property owners for their feedback.

See 'Applying E Zones' dropdown below for more information.

E Zones explained

Watch our FAQ video with Land Use Planning Coordinator Alex Caras


To ensure the most up-to-date information is used to inform the rezoning of land to an environmental, rural or urban zone, Council initially sought feedback from affected land owners to verify existing vegetation and primary use of the land.

What happened with the initial feedback from land owners?

We received feedback from more than 1,000 land owners in the Shire. 

The review of the land owner feedback has taken some time given the high volume of submissions received, the need for site inspections on certain land and any follow-up discussions to support agreed landowner outcomes. We have been in contact with everyone who has provided feedback initially, to progress to one of the Planning Proposal stages, and continue to follow up with those who haven't.

The outcomes of feedback from landowners will inform the process of rezoning land. This will result in some areas of the Shire being rezoned to E2 Environmental Conservation and/or E3 Environmental Management. Areas that do not meet the E Zone criteria will have an alternate zone applied and where applicable, mapped planning controls in an overlay. (see question in below 'dropdown' for more information about overlays).

As part of this rezoning process staff are continuing to work with affected landowners to get agreed outcomes wherever possible.

Stage 1 Planning Proposal

Stage 1 Planning Proposal (PP1), reflects early agreements reached with approximately 60 landowners (as of 20 June 2018) on how environmental zones and non-environmental zones are to be applied. PP1 received authorisation from the Department of Planning & Environment to proceed to public exhibition, which ran from 27 February to 29 March 2019. 

Council considered all submissions received, at the 20 June 2019 Planning Meeting, with a decision being to progress an amended Planning Proposal to the Dept Planning, Industry & Environment for finalisation to apply the agreed LEP 2014 zones and mapping.  All landowners will be advised once the zoning amendments are 'legislated'.  

Stage 2 Planning Proposal

The second stage Planning Proposal  (PP2) for approximately 600 properties was on public exhibition until 6 December 2019.  

All submissions received during public exhibition will be reviewed by staff, individually working with each landowner if  any changes are required. A submissions report will be presented to Council in early 2020 to progress the planning proposal, to apply the agreed LEP 2014 environmental and non-environmental zones.

Stage 3 Planning Proposal

Staff are continuing to review (and respond to) feedback from affected landowners to be included in the Stage 3 Planning Proposal, which will also include land affected by mapped planning controls in an overlay that will protect environmental values that do not meet the criteria for an E2 or E3 zone. 

Environmental Zones or 'E Zones' include:

  • E2 – Environmental Conservation
  • E3 – Environmental Management.

E2 Zone: Environmental Conservation

The E2 zone primarily applies to areas of high ecological, scientific or cultural value that should be protected for environmental conservation purposes (including zones 7(a), 7(b), 7(j) and 7(k) under the Byron LEP 1988), and where commercial agricultural activities are not carried out. Examples of high ecological or scientific values include: littoral rainforest, coastal wetlands, endangered ecological communities, threatened species habitat and over-cleared vegetation communities.

E3 Zone: Environmental Management

The E3 zone primarily applies to areas containing special ecological or cultural attributes that require careful consideration/management. This may include land containing riparian / estuarine vegetation, or rare, endangered, and vulnerable forest ecosystems, or where established agricultural activities occur within vegetated areas that meet the E2 criteria. This zone allows for a wider range of land use activities that are compatible with these attributes.

View the proposed objectives and permissible uses in these zones(PDF, 35KB)

The formal rezoning process is known as a Planning Proposal - a document that explains the justification, in this case, to apply E Zones and related amendments to Byron Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2014.

Given the scale of rezonings across the Shire, Planning Proposals are being undertaken in three stages to deliver more timely and effective outcomes for affected landowners.  

Please note that target dates shown (in the above overview of proposed stages) only relate to the exhibition part of the rezoning process. Once the exhibition is complete for each stage, it may be an additional three-four months for staff to review submissions and report back to Council for final adoption. 

As part of the E Zone review process it was decided to map all vegetation satisfying the criteria for an E2 or E3 Zone and consult with the affected landowners. The decision to include both ‘Deferred Matter’ and ‘Non-Deferred Matter’ areas was made on the basis that:

  • the LEP 2014 Deferred Matter (DM) boundaries were based on 2007 vegetation mapping and a range of considerations including variable width buffers (eg. riparian, NP), smoothing of gaps and sharp edges and existing ‘7’ zones. As such, the DM boundaries reflect areas determined using a different methodology (vegetation, environment and aesthetics) than has now been applied in accordance with the 2015 Northern Councils E Zone Review Final Recommendations Report
  • mapping of contiguous vegetation communities for possible E2 and E3 Zones would ensure a more holistic assessment of such vegetation for zoning purposes; and
  • it was anticipated that the E Zone review process may result in agreed outcomes on many sites where the proposed E Zone/s do not align with the original DM areas, which is consistent with the Northern Councils E Zone Review Final Recommendations Report and the Ministerial 117 Direction 2.5.

NOTE: Whilst potential E Zones were mapped across the Shire in this way for transparency, as per Council resolution 16-576 only DM areas will progress to the next stage of the formal rezoning process. The only exception to this will be where a landowner with LEP 2014 zoned land (ie. Non-Deferred Matter’) has requested an E Zone over their land.

Areas that do not meet the criteria for an E Zone will have an alternative zone applied, most likely an equivalent ‘rural’ or ‘urban’ zone (as applicable) under Byron LEP 2014.

Affected landowners will be notified in writing of the suitable alternative zone/s and have an opportunity to provide feedback on this zoning at a later date.

Under Byron LEP 1988 the 7(d) Scenic Escarpment Zone largely covers most escarpment land in the Shire, as well as other visually important areas. This is a sensitive landscape experiencing, and likely to continue to experience, increased development pressure. Inappropriate development has the potential to erode the scenic values of these areas and conflict with community values and Council’s policy framework in this regard.

To maintain consistency with the current 7(d) zone provisions and ensure visually prominent areas are not eroded by inappropriate land uses that are otherwise permitted in the RU1/RU2 zones, a new RU6 Transition Zone is proposed. 

Following community engagement and a non supportive position of Council's proposal from the Department of Planning Industry & Environment (DPIE), when the proposal was reported to Council in September 2019, it was decided to keep the existing LEP 1988 zone, 7(d) Scenic Escarpment, in locations that do not qualify for an environmental zoning, until such time as a suitable replacement LEP 2014 zone is supported by the DPIE.

Staff are continuing to liaise with the DPIE and neighbouring Councils for a replacement LEP 2014 zone.  

Find out more details regarding the proposed RU6 Zone. 

Council has the option of using mapped planning controls (also known as “overlays”) to protect environmental values that do not meet the criteria for an E2 or E3 zone. This may be applied to sensitive riparian areas (i.e. land within a certain distance of a watercourse) or other native vegetation that needs to be managed through a local provision and associated “overlay” map in the Byron LEP 2014. In the case of a vegetation overlay map, this will not duplicate E2 or E3 zones.  

An overlay map and associated clauses will identify the matters that need to be considered in a development application for proposed land uses that require development consent. Land uses that are permitted without consent, such as some forms of extensive agriculture in rural zones, will not be subject to map overlay provisions in the LEPs. Also, existing agricultural practices that are currently being undertaken on land will not be subject to the provisions of the map. 

The review of landowner feedback has identified potential land where use of an overlay may be an appropriate management mechanism, however this is best considered at the end of the review process when the final extent of E Zones applied within the Shire is known. A further report on this option will be considered by Council on finalisation of the application of E Zones.

Some coastal areas were also identified as a Deferred Matter under the Byron LEP 2014, pending the outcomes of the State Government’s coastal management review and the possible adoption of a new coastal zone. This applies to the following zones under the Byron LEP 1988:

  • 7(f1) Coastal lands; and
  • 7(f2) Urban Coastal Lands 

Such areas will be considered under a separate review process and remain as a Deferred Matter under the Byron Local LEP 2014 until appropriate planning controls are developed in consultation with the State Government. These areas will therefore remain subject to the zoning and legislative requirements of the Byron LEP 1988 and the relevant controls in the Byron Development Control Plan (DCP) 2010.