The Overstrand Municipality calls upon property owners at regular intervals to clear vacant land of young ‘alien trees’ and other vegetation that pose a safety hazard to neighbouring properties and the general surroundings. Besides the adherence of regulation and safety stipulations, this practice also provides the public with a measure of ensuring that places where stolen goods and criminals can hide are kept to a minimum. It further eliminates any undue worry for neighbours of your plot becoming a fire hazard.
Moreover, in the event of wanting to sell your property the necessary regulations in this regard must be in place at the time of inspection in order for the municipality to issue you with a rates clearance certificate.
Vacant land gives many areas its unique rural appeal - which attracts tourists - but fynbos on undeveloped land can pose a fire risk. Fynbos is a highly combustible vegetation that burns with high intensity which poses a high fire risk when allowed to become densely overgrown; especially in residential areas.
In line with the policy, vegetation growth on properties in these areas may not be higher than 500mm (0.5m) high and where the preservation of trees and shrubs are desired they must be trimmed and maintained in compliance with the applicable section of the policy schedule.
In light of the safety requirements set out in Section 34(2) of the Community Fire Safety By-Law, it is imperative for all property owners to take cognisance of their responsibility to prevent an accumulation of combustible material, including vegetative matter, on their premises.
In conjunction with this, Overstrand Municipality Policy for the Clearing and Maintenance of Vegetation Creating Fire Hazards, previously known as the Fire Hazards Management Policy, has been adopted by Council on 30 March 2017 and can be downloaded from our website www.overstrand.go.za, click on Policies.
The municipality conducts a minimum of two inspections per year throughout the jurisdiction and will issue compliances notices to all non-compliant property owners who must then remove the hazard or rectify the matter within 28 working days.
Failure to do so will result in the owner having to carry the cost of remedial actions taken by the municipality on their behalf, with an administrative levy of no less than R1 100 being added to the relative municipal account. The municipality will, within reason, also react pro-actively to any complaints received from residents regarding overgrown properties; in which case the same process will be followed.
Guidelines for the cleaning of plots as follows:
- Grass and groundcover vegetation must not be higher than 500mm. Invasive alien vegetation, such as Port Jacksons, must be removed and controlled by regular cutting and may be treated with herbicide at the discretion of landowners to prevent re-growth. Contractors appointted by the municipality for clearing of private erven are not permitted to use any herbicides. The reduction of dense overgrowth and undergrowth of desired indigenous vegetation by removing all flammable material such as dead wood from beneath the shrubbery and thinning of excess growth on trees from ground level to a minimum height of 1,2m (indigenous vegetation) shall be reduced as per schedule 1 and 2 of the policy. All garden refuse, cuttings and excess combustible material (irrespective of the clearing process) shall be removed from the property and disposed of at the relevant municipal refuse transfer stations. The clearing of undergrowth and deadwood below all desired and protected (including Milkwood) thickets and dense brush in residential areas is imperative as this increases the danger of fires and could result in these spots being easily ignited by flying embers from nearby fires.
- Properties up to 1 hectare in size must be adequately cleared, and larger ones must be provided with a firebreak of at least 5m in width along all boundaries. All garden refuse resulting from clearing actions as well as other combustible materials must be removed to the relevant refuse transfer station. If the Municipality has to clear the plot, it will, over and above the actual cleaning cost, add an additional administration fee of R1 100 to your municipal account. Prices quoted in this article, are only valid till 30 June 2017.
- Landowners wishing to clear their properties accordingly can obtain information on clearing contractors from Fire Services or the respective administration offices.
More information can be obtained from the Plot Clearing Administrator at 028 313 8000 or e-mail