The NSW Government’s new Koala Habitat Protection State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) does impact farming and private native forestry activities in many parts of NSW.
NSW Farmers’ President James Jackson said the new SEPP was designed to protect koalas from urban expansion, but many farmers are finding they are bound by new laws that are based on inaccurate mapping.
“As Minister Stokes said on ABC Radio this morning, the intention of the SEPP is to limit the loss of habitat caused by large scale land use change on the peri-urban fringes of our cities and large regional towns as land is rezoned for urban uses,” Mr Jackson said.
“However, Minister Stokes is incorrect in saying that this will only affect farming land that is being sold for urban development. The SEPP will impose major restrictions on farming in NSW and will impede growth in local food and fibre production through turning farms into environment zones that are overseen by local councils.”
“While these measures may be appropriate where a new suburb is being created on the edge of Sydney, it should have been obvious that they would be unnecessary, completely unworkable and immensely costly on farms.”
“In its present terms, the SEPP overrides the existing Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Framework to tie up productive farming land and require its ongoing management for conservation. This may occur even where no change in land use is proposed and even where no development consent is required for the relevant farming activities.”
“The expansion of the koala habitat tree species under the SEPP from 10 to 123 means many farms in NSW now come under the control of this planning instrument.”
“Farmers are leading environmentalists in NSW. Everyday farmers in NSW are at the forefront of showing how koala conservation and farming can and do co-exist. The answer isn’t extra green tape and multiple layers of approval that could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars.”
Mr Jackson said all land zoned for agricultural production should be excluded from the Koala SEPP and called on the Minister Stokes to amend it to serve the purpose of protecting koalas from urban expansion.
“The SEPP is not a suitable mechanism to regulate the conservation of koalas in the farming landscape. Koalas can co-exist with most farming activities and where risks need to be managed this should be accomplished through a fit for purpose set of controls developed for managing impacts on koalas in the farming landscape under the Land Management Code.”