NSW is transitioning to a new way of managing and assessment proposals to clear native vegetation. The aim of the reforms is to enable effective agricultural land management and facilitate ecologically sustainable development outcomes. It is a risk based approach which encourages landholders to avoid and minimise any potential impacts on biodiversity. Impacts that cannot be avoided are required to be offset.
Crown Land Reform
The Crown Land Management Act 2016 (CLM Act) commenced on 1 July 2018, introducing a consolidated, modern piece of legislation to govern the management of Crown land in NSW.
In 2021, the Crown Land Management Amendment (Plan of Management) Regulation 2021 (CLM Regulation 2021) removed a requirement for councils to complete Plans of Management by 1 July 2021. This change is aimed to provide councils greater flexibility in the development of Plans of Management for Crown reserves.
The CLM Act falls within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper, and is administered by the Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands (DPE – Crown Lands).
DPE – Crown Lands continues to be the key contact for councils on broader aspects of the reforms including native title, the Land Negotiation Program, the Crown Reserves Improvement Fund and Crown Roads.
Councils have broad roles and responsibilities in their communities, including the provision of facilities and the supply of public services, for example, the widening of roads, increased community park areas, or the expansion of water and sewerage services. It is recognised that a council will sometimes need to acquire land, or an interest in land such as an easement, to achieve its roles and responsibilities as its community’s needs change.
A council’s powers to acquire land or an interest in land for the purpose of exercising its functions are derived from section 177 of the Roads Act 1993 (for roads purposes) and from section 186 of the Local Government Act 1993 (for all other purposes). A council’s power to acquire land or in interest in land is non-delegable and the decision to undertake the acquisition must be made by a resolution of the council. Section 178 of the Roads Act 1993 and section 187 of the Local Government Act 1993 authorises a council to acquire such land or interest in land by agreement or by compulsory process in accordance with the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation Act) 1991.
The acquisition process is governed by the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991. Councils must also ensure they are in compliance with the Property Acquisition Standards, the Minimum Requirements – Minimum Negotiation Period for Acquisition of Land, and the Minimum Requirements – Owner-Initiated Acquisition in Cases of Hardship.
In accordance with section 178 of the Roads Act 1993 and section 187 of the Local Government Act 1993,a council may not give a proposed acquisition notice under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 without the approval of the Minister for Local Government. Councils should refer to the Office of Local Government Guidelines for the Compulsory Acquisition of Land by Councils for further guidance.
Updated statutory forms under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 to take effect from 8 June 2022.