Coalition cuts red tape for farmers

DUBBO and western district farmers who have been virtually locked out of certain parcels of their land can now apply to have special rules removed by paying a fee.

Since 2004 the former Labor government had converted about 9000 perpetual leases across the state to freehold, and many had land management covenants attached.

Earlier this year the Coalition government announced a policy change it said would make it easier to convert perpetual leasehold land to freehold without a land management covenant.

More was to come, with Dubbo MP Troy Grant recently welcoming the announcement of a review of covenants put in place before the policy shift earlier this year.

"The changes to the perpetual lease conversion process removed regulatory burdens while protecting land with high conservation value," said Mr Grant.

"Under this new scheme, about 2000 properties may be able to have covenants removed based on previous assessments.

"I welcome the NSW government's commitment to tackling unnecessary regulation by permitting landholders who converted their leases under the old system to apply to have their existing covenants removed."

North-western NSW farmers Mark and Sandra Downes also welcomed the review of existing covenants.

They bought 162 hectares under perpetual lease at Boomi, but the policy change of the former government had required covenants that had rendered the land of limited use.

"We virtually had to lock it up, there's a lot of young trees growing on it, it's not productive, I have about 30 cows on it and that's not sustainable," Mr Downes said.

"Then I heard they were getting rid of the covenants and I was overjoyed, apart from the fact I can't do normal farming on it, if I wanted to sell it, down the line, who would want to buy country they can't improve?"

Applications will be assessed under the same framework that was announced in April this year, which means covenants, will not be removed where land is adjacent to national park or wilderness areas.

The application fee to assess whether covenants can be removed is $356 per landholding.

Applicants should contact the Landscape Services Centre at Dubbo on 6883 3317.

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