NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey will attempt to revert the floodplain harvesting disallowance, announcing she intends to table a rescission motion in the NSW Upper House today.
Ms Pavey said the aim of the rescission motion was to provide clarity to the 12,000 farmers across both the Southern and Northern Basin regarding Flood Plain Harvesting (FPH).
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A rescission motion has not been tabled in NSW parliament since the 1990s.
A regulation, which would have allowed unlimited floodplain harvesting until the government licenced the practice, was voted down 22 to 16 in the Upper House last month, with the Shooters, Fishers, Farmers, Labor, One Nation and Greens uniting in opposition.
The disallowance pulled into question the legality of floodplain harvesting, southern basin irrigator groups to arguing that until FPH is licenced, the disallowance made the practice illegal.
The NSW government is aiming to have floodplain harvesting licences and approvals for all five northern basin valleys by July 2021.
Ms Pavey said today that 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."
"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," Ms Pavey said.
"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."
Since the disallowance, Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), who enforce water laws in NSW, have said that their regulatory priorities remain focused on unlawful water take, "rather than eligible structures which may be licenced within months."
More to come