REPORT: Managing farm-related land use conflict in NSW

Published 18 Dec 2020

Land use conflict has significant effects on primary producers and the agricultural sector in NSW. With agricultural land occupying more than 80% of the State, these conflicts also impact on many communities attached to or dependent on farming.

Farm-related land use conflict in NSW extends beyond neighbourhood amenity disputes and peri-urban zones, encompassing water management rights, health concerns, disagreement on zoning or planning choices and debates over best-practice farming in regions. Farmers can suffer significant
economic consequences from land use conflict. However, this research
shows the most severe impacts from these disputes are largely non-financial. In key
informant interviews conducted for the study, mental health, social and physical amenity, industry decline and erosion of trust emerged as the primary impacts of land use conflict on NSW farmers. 

While some regional initiatives have made inroads in preventing or mitigating land use conflict, and policy has been discussed at length in recent years, NSW as yet lacks a cohesive overarching approach to consistently avoid or resolve issues.

Through the literature review and regional case studies, recommendations for both proactive and reactive response emerged. The interdependencies of land use conflict indicate the need for a combination of planning and policy options to be utilised along with broader strategic initiatives, both to minimise the risk of conflict occurring and to enable the best possible outcome for stakeholders when issues do arise.

The complexity of land use conflict issues in NSW agriculture is difficult to overstate. However, at a time when agriculture is under increasing pressure from a changing climate there is no doubting the need for both proactive and reactive responses to manage the disruptive uncertainty created by conflict, which ultimately threatens the right to farm.

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