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New Koala SEPP 2021 cutting red tape for Upper Hunter farmers

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The new Koala SEPP 2021 will cut red tape for farmers across the state including in the Upper Hunter according to the NSW Government.

Koala SEPP 2019 has been remade across NSW as Koala SEPP 2021 with core rural zones in rural areas decoupled from the SEPP as new codes that protect koala habitat under the Local Land Services Act are developed over the next month.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said this will vastly reduce red tape by removing the dual consent requirements facing farmers and foresters while immediately introducing enhanced protection for koala habitat in areas where more than 95 per cent of development activity occurs.

“This is a win for regional NSW and balances the interests of farmers and the protection of koalas and their habitat,” John Barilaro said.

“Land zoned for primary production or forestry in regional NSW will not be subject to the new SEPP, which means farmers will not be strangled by red tape."

“The intention has always been to find a solution to protect both farmers and koalas and we have successfully arrived at the Koala SEPP 2021.”

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said this is a win for local farmers.

"The new Koala SEPP 2021 will exclude farming and forestry land from the SEPP altogether which simply means farmers will not be strangled by red tape,"

 "The Koala SEPP 2019 as we all know was a disaster and it was a real red tape problem and a practical problem for farmers in particular. Now that's all gone and this won't occur under the Koala SEPP 2021."

Conservationists say a new deal struck between the NSW Liberal and Nationals parties will minimise koala protections in rural areas will push the species to the brink. 

The Greens say the regulatory changes "set koalas up for extinction" and say they are a victory for the logging industry.

"To be honest if the Greens had their way nobody would be able to do anything and life would go on in some utopia somewhere, but the reality is we need farming, we need farmers, we need food, we need fibre and we need timber and it's important that we do strike the right balance to ensure that we can have agricultural production in particular and protect the iconic koala. No one wants to see koalas go that's just crazy to think that anybody would want that to happen," said Michael Johnsen. 

"Now the Planning Minister puts the details as agreed to with the NSW Nationals into the State Environmental Planning Policy, sends it off to the Governor for consent and then once the Governor signs off then its active," he said. 

To ensure that Koala habitat is protected, whilst limiting unnecessary regulation on rural land use, the following measures will be introduced:

  • Koala SEPP 2019 will be remade across NSW as Koala SEPP 2021;
  • The existing Koala SEPP 2020 will continue to apply in core rural zones (RU 1, 2 and 3), except in metropolitan Sydney, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, where Koala SEPP 2021 will apply across all zones;
  • Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management (KPOM) will be finalised to protect koala habitat in Tweed and Byron Shires.
  • Private Native Forestry (PNF) and Local Land Services (LLS) codes will be revised to ensure robust protections for koalas in areas of high value koala habitat and certainty and consistency for primary producers;
  • The Minister for Planning will issue a new section 9.1 direction to ensure that only the Minister, and not councils, will be empowered to rezone land used for primary production to an environmental zone, or to rezone land currently in rural zones 1, 2 and 3 to other rural zones;
  • Once the codes are finalised and reflected in legislation (as required), the Koala SEPP 2020 will be repealed and the Koala SEPP 2021 will apply to the remaining land;
  • At that time, dual consent provisions for PNF in local environmental plans will be removed through Koala SEPP 2021;
  • Koala Plans of Management and guidelines under Koala SEPP 2021 will require the approval of the Secretary of DPIE and the concurrence of the Secretary of DRNSW.

The NSW Koala Strategy commits Government to stabilise and then increase koala numbers in the wild by identifying and protecting koala habitat on public and private land.

Since 2018, the NSW Government has invested more than $44.7 million to secure koalas in the wild as part of the NSW Koala Strategy.

To date, initiatives include purchasing more than 3,600 hectares of priority habitat for permanent protection as part of the National Parks estate and securing 24,000 hectares of State forest as koala parks and reserves.

Image credit: John Barilaro Facebook page