Strategic Regional Land Use
The NSW Government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy addresses one of the State's ongoing challenges – to provide greater protection for valuable agricultural land and better balance competing land uses.
The NSW Government is identifying and protecting strategic agricultural land, protecting valuable water resources and providing greater certainty for companies wanting to invest in mining and coal seam gas projects in regional NSW.
This policy is the result of an extensive consultation process, during which the views of farmers, miners and the wider community were heard and have informed its development and final form.
The policy has 27 new measures that work together to identify, map and protect the State's most valuable agricultural land and critical water resources.
It provides certainty around processes and allows for greater input from local communities, landholders and scientific experts into the assessment of exploration, mining and coal seam gas production proposals.
This policy also provides the platform to resolve conflicts over competing land use.
A key component of the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy is the identification of strategic agricultural land. Biophysical strategic agricultural land has been mapped at a regional scale. Because of the scale of these maps, site verification is required and can apply to both mapped and unmapped areas.
The Interim Protocol for Site Verification and Mapping of Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land is available to view or download from NSW Government Gazette No. 44 (page 894). The protocol outlines the process for verification of whether land meets the biophysical strategic agricultural land criteria. It will assist proponents and landholders understand what is required to identify the existence of biophysical strategic agricultural land.
A step in determining whether biophysical strategic agricultural land exists requires identifying whether a property has access to reliable water. There are three data sets to consider as part of this process:
The reliable rainfall information (350mm or above 9 out of 10 years) has been derived from the SILO set of monthly rainfalls for 1062 rainfall stations in NSW. SILO is maintained by the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence and uses rainfall records provided by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. View or download the map of Reliable rainfall in NSW (PDF 336 KB).
Highly productive groundwater
The spatial data behind 'highly productive groundwater' is based on the groundwater source boundaries as defined in the relevant Water Sharing Plans and categorised according to the Aquifer Interference Policy. View or download the map of Groundwater productivity in NSW (PDF 2.3 MB).
Reliable surface water
The spatial data underpinning 'reliable surface water' is based on linear features within the 'hydroline' dataset sourced from NSW Land and Property Information. These data are categorised as:
- Those features defined as being 'Regulated Rivers' as defined within the relevant water sharing plans
- Those features defined as not being 'Regulated Rivers' and are categorised as having a Stream Order of 5 and above, using the Strahler stream order classification method
- Those features defined as not being 'Regulated Rivers' and are categorised as having a Stream Order of 3 or 4 using the Strahler stream order classification method and are categorised by the Office of Water as having a flow for at least 95 percent of the time. The flow characteristic is based on statistically relevant Water Monitoring Site data where available or expert assessment when these data are not available.
Note that the reliable surface water data are currently being checked and at this time the maps are not available.
All of the area in the Upper Hunter and the New England North West Strategic Regional Land Use Plans have access to a 'reliable water supply'. This is because there is either rainfall of 350 mm or more per annum in 9 out of 10 years or the land is underlain by a groundwater aquifer with a bore yield rate greater than 5 litres per second and total dissolved solids of less than 1,500 milligrams per litre (that is, they are highly productive).
Proponents seeking guidance for those project areas outside the Upper Hunter and the New England North West will need to consider the steps outlined in the Protocol.
Inquiries in relation to access to reliable water should be sent to email@example.com.