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.
The CLM Act introduces significant changes to the management of Crown land by councils. Specifically, Councils will now manage their dedicated or reserved land as if it were public land under the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act). Most of this land is expected to be classified as “community land” under the LG Act, meaning that councils will be required to have plans of management in place for the land. The CLM Act provides a transition period of 3 years from commencement for councils to have these plans in place.
There will remain some marked difference for the management of Crown land and the management of ‘public land’ under the LG Act as a result of additional statutory requirements provided by the CLM Act, which will be reflected in guidance provided to councils. This primarily relates to the management of native title responsibilities on Crown reserves.
The CLM Act falls within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister for Lands and Forestry, and is administered by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands.
The Office of Local Government (OLG) is working collaboratively with DPIE – Crown Lands to ensure councils are prepared for commencement of the CLM Act. OLG is leading the development of guidance materials and training programs to support councils through the transition. A council reference group, including Local Government NSW, and representative of the range of local councils has been established to ensure this material meets the needs of councils.
DPIE – 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