NSW farmers and private native forestry (PNF) operators have today been given much-needed certainty with the introduction of legislation to exempt agricultural activity from the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection).

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall yesterday (Wednesday) introduced the Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2020, which is the result of robust negotiations to balance the property rights of farmers with the need to protect the State’s iconic koala population.

Acting Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the introduction of the Bill would deliver certainty for farmers and ensure farm land continues to be managed under the existing land management framework.

“Our farmers navigate enough uncertainty everyday – from drought to shifting market prices,” Mr Toole said.

“With this Bill, we are providing our farmers with the certainty they need to get on with the job, and make long-term investment decisions.”

Mr Marshall said he was proud to introduce the Bill which would see Part 5A and Part 5B of the Local Land Services Act 2013 decoupled from the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection).

“This Bill strikes a beautiful balance in protecting agricultural activity and farmers’ property rights while at the same time providing robust protections for koalas,” Mr Marshall said.

“There is already a strong framework in place to regulate agricultural land in NSW and what this legislation does is ensure farmers continue to be regulated under that framework – rather than the planning system.

“As a Government it’s important we provide as much regulatory certainty to our primary producers as we can so they can focus on the important task of feeding and clothing the nation.”

The Bill will also remove an anomaly that saw farmers in environmental zones regulated by the planning system rather than the Local Land Services Act 2013. In addition, it contains several provisions to strengthen the framework for sustainable PNF operations in NSW.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson welcomed the progress on this critical issue for farmers in our State.

“NSW Farmers has consistently said that the Biodiversity Conservation and Land Management Framework, overseen by Local Land Services, provides a modern fit-for-purpose system to balance agricultural development and conservation on farms in NSW,” Mr Jackson said.

“We appreciate the government listening to NSW Farmers and decoupling the LLS Act from the Koala SEPP, and we will continue to work to resolve these issues to ensure the planning system does not unreasonably limit farming and active land management, or undermine investment in NSW agriculture.”