Weeds are plants that pose a threat to agriculture, industry, the environment, human health or the community and have the potential to spread to other areas. Plants that significantly impact upon the natural environment, the community or the economy should be managed and controlled.
Up until 1 July 2017 the main piece of legislation dealing with what is commonly called a weed plant was the NSW Noxious Weeds Act 1994. Under this Act certain plants were termed “noxious weeds” and were placed into “classes” that dictated their control measures.
Under the new Act, plants are no longer termed “noxious weeds” nor do they have “classes” of weeds. The new legislation provides greater flexibility to respond to, manage and control all weed species. All plants are assessed for their biosecurity risk. This is the risk that the introduction, presence, spread or increase of a plant will have, or may potentially have, an adverse effect on the economy, the environment or the community.
Such potential adverse effects include the plant;
- out-competing other organisms for resources, including food, water, nutrients, habitat and sunlight
- causing harm to other organisms through its toxicity
- reducing the productivity of agricultural systems or the value of agricultural products
- damaging infrastructure
- reducing the amenity or aesthetic value of premises
- harming or reducing biodiversity
For certain plants known to have a high biosecurity risk, the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 prescribes actions that are deemed reasonably practical to prevent, eliminate or contain the risk. For example:
- some highly invasive plants not already present in NSW are listed as prohibited matter and prevention of the biosecurity risk is considered a reasonably practical objective
- some plants with limited distributions have prescribed mandatory measures applied to them that aim to eradicate the plant and thus eliminate their biosecurity risk
- some widely distributed invasive plants have biosecurity zones that seek to contain their biosecurity risk.
Regardless of whether plants have specific actions prescribed to them, the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 recognises that everyone who knows, or ought to reasonably know that a plant poses a biosecurity risk has a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate and minimise that biosecurity risk so far as is reasonably practicable.
Biosecurity risk weeds
While the Biosecurity Act 2015 is administered by the Minister for Primary Industries, the Act is implemented and enforced by the City as the Local Control Authority (LCA) for the area.
The Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017 – 2022 which has been developed by Greater Sydney Local Land Services, outlines two categories of Priority Weeds;
- “State Priority Weeds”
- “Regional Priority Weeds”
It also lists;
- "Other Weeds of Regional Concern”
Both “State Priority Weeds” and “Regional Priority Weeds” have specific measures for the control of individual weed species.
The “Other Weeds of Regional Concern” have been put through a Weed Risk Assessment process which identifies outcomes for these weeds. This category is known as “Local Priority Weeds”.
Appendix 1 of the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017-2022 lists all priority weeds for the Greater Sydney region that have prescribed requirements under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015. It also lists other regional priority weeds and the minimum outcomes that demonstrate compliance with the general biosecurity duty.
NSW WeedWise is a NSW Department of Primary Industry website which profiles over 300 high priority weeds across the State and Greater Sydney Region. It describes the Biosecurity duty required under the Biosecurity Act 2015 for each plant and outlines their methods of control (including registered herbicide options).
Weed identification and control
For helpful information on the identification and control of invasive plants, visit NSW WeedWise or Sydney Weeds Committees. For fact sheets describing simple weed removal techniques visit Weed removal fact sheets.
Weeds on my neighbours' property
The quickest and most effective way of dealing with weed issues on your neighbours’ property is to foster good relations with your neighbour and seek to resolve the issues together. If this is not possible, contact Council and an authorised officer will inspect the property to assess whether the plant has legislative requirements to be controlled under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015. If so, Council can proceed with the matter.
If there are no legislative requirements but the officer deems the plant poses a significant biosecurity risk that can be reasonably and practicably addressed, then the matter can also be taken further. If this is not the case and you still can't resolve the issue with your neighbour, contact Community Justice Centre to arrange for mediation.
Weeds on public land
Weeds are an issue in bushland reserves, along tracks, waterways and disturbed areas where weed seeds are spread by wind, water, birds, animals and even attached to the clothing of people. They cause problems by smothering native vegetation, blocking creek and river systems and severely altering their ecology and often increasing flooding.
The City of Parramatta's Natural Resources Management team undertakes a combined environmental weed control program in many reserves and waterways with work undertaken by private contractors and community volunteer bushcare groups.
Tree preservation and noxious weeds
All control action under the Biosecurity Act 2015 replaces any controls under Council's Preservation of Trees and vegetation controls provided under the Development Control Plans that are relevant to the City’s Local Government area. You should have all weeds correctly identified before removal to ensure tree preservation penalties are not incurred.
For more information on the NSW Biosecurity legislative framework, visit
or contact your Local Land Services office
or contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on (02) 9806 5050.