NSW Department of Planning and Environment

New rules to help farmers build resilience

  • Date: 06.12.2022
  • Type: Departmental Media Release
  • Author: NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Farmers can now repair, restore, and rehydrate dry land without just relying on rainfall, thanks to changes to planning rules announced today by the Department of Planning and Environment.

The Department’s Executive Director of Infrastructure Policy Jonathon Schipp said it is now easier for landowners to restore streams on their property through landscape rehydration techniques, without the need for development approval.

“Grazing and vegetation removal has sped up water movement in streams over time, meaning water rushes through the landscape too quickly to be absorbed, increasing erosion and flooding,” Mr Schipp said.

“Landscape rehydration involves using natural materials, such as plants, logs, and rocks, to support a catchment’s flow, slowing the stream and raising water levels so it’s retained for longer periods, enabling it to seep into the soil.

“This infrastructure improves soil health and plant growth, reduces erosion, increases water availability during dry periods, and keeps the ground moist, enabling farmers to keep their properties hydrated and build resilience to natural disasters, such as future droughts and flooding.”

Mr Schipp said the new rules provide a faster and simpler planning pathway, saving landowners time and money.

“To implement these works, applicants often need a development application (DA) on top of water, environmental and other approvals,” he said.

“Given the comprehensive assessment required for environmental and water licenses, and the low-impact nature of these structures, we’ve removed the need for a DA. These streamlined reforms and fewer hurdles mean primary producers can keep water in the land and create healthier ecosystems sooner.”

A step-by-step guide will be released shortly, detailing what approvals farmers need to implement landscape rehydration techniques and rehabilitate eroded streams.

For more information, visit www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/isepp-landscape.