New native veg act ‘bureaucracy gone mad’

STAKE IN VEGIE: OEH policy officer Rob Nicholl addresses the gathering at the native vegetation information session at Goulburn Soldiers Club on Thursday.The NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage held a native vegetation information session at the Soldiers Club yesterday.
Nanjing Night Net

But all it did was fuel the frustrations of those who will be impacted most by the revised legislation.

A small group of farmers, agronomists and councillors attended the information session with the aim of finding out more about the changes to the Native Vegetation Regulation, set to launch later this year.

The State Government is reviewing the regulation to ensure it allows farmers to manage their land, while also protecting the natural resources and environment upon which sustainable agriculture and forestry are based.

One of the many objectives of the meeting was to reduce the amount of red tape that landholders need to sort through to get approval.

Currently landholders require approval under what is known as a Property Vegetation Plan for a range of land-clearing activities. Under these proposed changes, landholders will be able to clear for a range of activities without needing approval from their local Catchment Management Authority.

“The general feeling is that we still have a lot of frustrations with the regulations,” Bungonia farmer Bill Dobbie told the Post.

“It’s all well and good to be addressing these regulations to us, but I feel that it either needs to be repealed altogether, or even more thoroughly reviewed.

“The whole Act is so complex. I honestly feel that it’s a waste of time trying to understand it all.

“I think a lot of people have been let down by the current Liberal (State) Government, who promised to totally change the Act, but that actually they appear to be standing back and doing absolutely nothing to help.”

Crookwell cattle farmer John Carter felt that farmers were being told what they could and couldn’t do.

“There were only eight farmers here, out of the possible 3000 to 4000 in the whole Southern area, which represents only a tiny minority,” he said.

“The Office of Environment and Heritage think that they can tell farmers who have been living off this land for nearly 180 years how to regulate their land use.

“The only reason there was such a small number of farmers here today is because most farmers wouldn’t know that such a complex Act is in existence. It’s purely an example of bureaucracy gone mad.”

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) felt that the overall tone of the meeting was one of frank and fair discussion about the regulations.

“The review process is underway and the draft regulation is currently on exhibition,” Office of Environment and Heritage’s Tom Grosskopf said.

“So far, we’ve held 16 public forums (including two today at Goulburn and Inverell) about the draft regulation, with more to follow over the next week or so.

“We’ve had good attendance at a wide range of meetings across the state. We’re encouraging people to make comments on the draft regulation,”

The OEH is encouraging people to make comments on the draft regulation. The closing date for submissions is August 24. More information can be found at: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/vegetation/ReviewofNVRegulations.htm.

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