Melinda Pavey intends to table a rescission motion in the NSW Upper House to provide clarity to the 12,000 farmers across both the Southern and Northern Basin regarding Flood Plain Harvesting (FPH).
The Water Management (General) Amendment (Exemptions for Floodplain Harvesting) Regulation 2020 provided certainty for water users in the five designated floodplains in the Northern Basin and 10 designated floodplains in the Southern Basin.
Last month, regulation was disallowed in the Upper House with the Shooters, Labor, One Nation and the Greens voting against better management of water take in NSW.
The disallowance removed the Regulation which provided certainty about the legality and enforceability of the law, potentially placing 12,000 farmers across the state in handcuffs, jeopardising at least half a billion dollars of the NSW productive sector.
“We aimed to set the benchmark in Australia to be the first jurisdiction to create a management policy on this type of take – with the mantra that if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it,” Pavey said.
The decision has destroyed any hope of us providing that certainty to farmers and farmer owned irrigation corporations, while we continue the process of licensing floodplain harvesting.
Generally, under the Water Management Act 2000 taking water without a license could result in a Tier One penalty, with potential penalties of two years jail time for an individual, or a $5 million dollar fine for a corporate – FPH has always been a grey area of this law.
Current predictions show there is a high chance of rain in coming weeks and we are still more than nine months away from finalising licenses for floodplain harvesting.