Friday, 2 August 2019
THE State Government yesterday announced major changes to deliver fairness to farmers facing historic compliance action under the failed and repealed Native Vegetation Act.
Scores of farmers across the State are currently being investigated under the Native Vegetation Act 2003, which was repealed in August 2017 after an independent review found it was delivering poor outcomes for agriculture and the environment.
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall and Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean announced the changes yesterday.
- No new investigations initiated under the old Native Vegetation Act after 31 August this year;
- Winding back of automatic remediation orders;
- Ensuring people will not face penalties for activities that would have been legal under the Government’s new laws, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
Mr Marshall flagged the changes at last week’s NSW Farmers’ Conference and said they would come as a huge relief to farmers and put an end to the practice of locking up productive land where possible.
“It’s ridiculous that landholders have found themselves in a situation where they are being punished by a piece of legislation that we as a Government repealed two years ago,” Mr Marshall said.
“The changes announced today will come as a huge relief to farmers and are all about delivering a fairer outcome so they can focus on getting through this drought, running their businesses and working within the new law and codes, rather than continually looking over their shoulders at the past.
“Importantly we will be looking to avoid the practice of locking up farmers’ land through punitive remediation orders.”
Mr Kean said: “The independent review found Labor’s Native Vegetation Act needed to be repealed because it was failing both the environment and farmers. These changes are about getting the balance right – to get the best outcome for the environment and for farmers.
“We’re always open to looking at how systems can be improved to achieve better environmental outcomes. We’ll keep doing that.”
Since the NSW Government introduced its new land management framework more than 29,000 hectares has been set aside for conservation and $91 million invested through the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.