An advance towards making the Natural Resource Management (NRM) system both fairer and more transparent has been highlighted through a reform released by the state Liberal Party this month.
Their NRM ‘Empowering Local Communities 2036’ policy is the result of an online survey which revealed a confidence drop by landholders, with suggestions of levies too high and lack of clarity over expenditure.
About 750 responses were received to questions about the NRM structure and funded programs, how land and water levies should be calculated and where the levy money should be spent.
The survey was supported by follow-up regional visits and forums to further measure community views.
According to Schubert MP Stephan Knoll, if a Liberal government is elected in March 2018, it will make the reform a foundation of environmental and regional policies through decentralisation of decision making and empowerment of communities.
“The clear feedback that we have received is that our natural resource management system needs an overhaul,” Mr Knoll said.
On a regional level it will mean the reform will establish a new Plains and Valleys Natural Resources Management board, which includes the Barossa and Clare Valleys and the northern Adelaide Plains.
“Our reforms will put people at the heart of management of our natural resources, recognising that those who work the land on a daily basis are best placed to sustain its environment,” he said.
The reform’s foundation will further mean:
- Three of the seven board members will be elected by the local community, the remaining appointed by the Minister
- Reduce the red tape associated with compliance with the NRM Act
- Cap NRM levy increases in the same way as we are proposing to do for council rates
- Ensure that money raised in our region is spent in our region
“There is little trust in the process, on how and where money is spent and what should be the priorities for the region.
“Our local farmers and vignerons are great custodians of our land.
“We need to have an NRM system that supports them and works with them to maintain our beautiful natural landscape,” he added.