It has been revealed the recent disallowance motion in the NSW Upper House that sought to impose tougher regulations on floodplain harvesting, will actually have the opposite effect.
NSW Irrigators’ Council (NSWIC) Chief Executive Officer, Claire Miller, said “the disallowance is perhaps the biggest backwards step in NSW water management, and is a disappointing outcome for all across the state – the environment and irrigation farmers alike”.
“The disallowance increases, not decreases, floodplain harvesting”, contrary to what was intended.
“The disallowance was intended to impose tighter restrictions on floodplain harvesting, but it does quite the opposite.”
The disallowance removes one of the only restrictions the NSW Government had on limiting take of floodplain flows – which was to restrict access to floodwater to only eligible works approved or constructed prior to 3 July 2008. Water users who have developed or redeveloped their farms post 2008, can now continue to use their works.
“The regulation drew a firm line that only works from 2008 or prior could be used for floodplain harvesting, and this was essential to control future growth.”
The disallowance now means all approved works, regardless of their approval or construction date, can be used for floodplain harvesting.
“This is what happens when people don’t understand the detail, they take us all backwards.”
The NSWIC strongly opposed the disallowance, and raised a number of concerns at the Parliamentary Inquiry.
“Our industry has heard the concerns of the public, and equally value the sustainability of our practices, so we have accepted that we need tighter regulations that can give the public that confidence.”
“We supported the regulation because we accept that we need to move forward to be regulated appropriately and sustainably to meet the expectations of the community.”
“Unfortunately, whilst irrigation farmers have acknowledged the need to move forward and embrace change, we have been let down by MPs and misinformed advocates failing to understand the details and actual implications, who have just made matters so much worse for everyone.”
“The reality is, the disallowance does not make floodplain harvesting illegal, it does not mean tighter regulations, and it will not reduce the volume of floodplain harvesting.”
“I’ve heard this described by many as an ‘own goal’, but it’s not even a goal we want, so really it’s just a big backward step for everyone to appropriate and sustainable regulation.”
“The only solution to this mess is for floodplain harvesting to be reduced to sustainable levels, with licencing and metering, as is planned to occur from 1 July 2021.”
“1 July 2021 cannot come soon enough to put an end to the confusion.”