Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson and Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker recently announced red tape would be slashed while lands that possessed high conservation values would still be protected.
Mr Humphries said the changes to the perpetual lease conversion process would remove many of the regulatory burdens placed on farmers.
“This reform is about making it easier for farmers to manage their land without unnecessary red tape,” Mr Humphries said.
“With key environmental protection outcomes now covered by the Native Vegetation Act and the Threatened Species Conservation Act, the time has come to remove the duplication of regulatory instruments which have restricted productive use of farmer’s land.”
He said that since 2004 the former government had converted almost 9,000 perpetual leases to freehold and many had land management covenants attached to title.
“Unlike Labor, the NSW Liberals and Nationals have confidence in our primary producers as competent, professional land managers and are rewarding their efforts through greater flexibility and reduced regulatory imposts,” he said.
‘It is now more appropriate to encourage incentive-based arrangements, such as conservation agreements, rather than enforcement of covenants.
“In future, covenants to protect native vegetation will not be generally placed on leases converted to freehold unless the land has been assessed as having high conservation values.”
Department of Primary Industries data demonstrates there are around 1030 remaining leases where covenants will now not generally be required on conversion.
He said as leases are converted to freehold the environmental safeguards will be provided by the Native Vegetation Act and the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
“There are some 342 leases that are on particularly sensitive land, typically land adjacent to national park or wilderness areas.
“In these cases, conversion to freehold will be considered on a case by case basis with covenants still likely to be applied.”
He said holders of perpetual leases are encouraged to continue applying to convert to freehold and all new applications will be considered against the new agreement.
“The perpetual lease conversion program was introduced by the previous government in recognition that leaseholders owned the majority equity in the land while the Crown retained minimal equity,” Mr Humphries said.
The Government has also made $2 million funding available through the NSW Environmental Trust to support landholders committed to conservation on private land, according to Mr Humphries.
“While our national parks system is vital, the NSW Government believes it’s just as important to work with landholders and the community to protect and improve habitat on private land.”
“These funds do just that, and will help fund more landholders to improve and conserve the environment on their own land.”
Mr Humphries thanked landholders for their patience on this issue and advised those who received letters on crown conversions and did not take up the previous offer, and who were still wishing to pursue the issue to liaise with their local Crown Lands office to review and negotiate the requirements.
“There are a large number of these perpetual lease conversion cases here in Barwon and I am extremely pleased that common sense will now prevail in what had previously been an often stressful conversion process.”