The NSW Government is developing a Landholder Negotiation Framework to protect the interests of farmers and landholders impacted by increased river flows as a result of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said while progress is being made on the Reconnecting River Country project, landholders’ rights need to be protected, starting with no compulsory acquisitions.
“The NSW Nationals in Government are committed to delivering healthy rivers, healthy farms and healthy communities,” Mr Anderson said.
“The Landholder Negotiation Framework will help us address impacts on farmers and landowners, including compensating property owners who are directly affected by higher river levels and additional water releases.
“The framework is designed to put the interests of landholders front and centre and ensure all negotiations are open, transparent, fair and equitable.
The Reconnecting River Country Program aims to achieve a balance of economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes across southern NSW by improving wetland and floodplain connectivity.
The program focuses on relaxing or removing some of the constraints or physical barriers impacting the delivery of water for the environment in the following areas in the southern-connected Murray–Darling Basin (the basin):
- Hume to Yarrawonga (Murray River)
- Yarrawonga to Wakool (Murray River)
- Murrumbidgee River.
Mr Anderson said the Government received 30 written submissions during the consultation process in March and April this year, along with feedback from more than 80 Reconnecting River Country Program stakeholders who have volunteered to be part of case studies to help guide the program.
“The views of landholders and stakeholders are at the heart of the Reconnecting River Country program, so all their responses will be considered carefully and used to help shape the framework,” Mr Anderson said.
“It’s crucial we get the framework right to protect the interests of landholders and ensure all negotiations on mitigation measures are conducted in good faith.
“I also want to reassure property owners that there will be no compulsory land acquisitions as part of this program under a NSW Liberals and Nationals Government.”
Nationals Duty MLC for Wagga Wagga and Murray, Wes Fang said the Framework will provide much needed certainty for the community.
“I have been engaging with landholders across southern NSW, and they want to see clarity with this program. The Minister’s announcement is a welcome step in providing assurances around the Reconnecting River Country program,” Mr Fang said.
Stakeholders across NSW will have another opportunity to have their say when the proposed amendments to the Water Management Regulation are released on exhibition.