When will grazing licenses be phased out?
Grazing licences will be phased out in two stages, depending on where your property is.
Stage 1 – 30 June 2016: Sections of the Yarra River, lower Hoddles Creek, & lower Wet Lead Creek.
Stage 2 – 30 June and 30 September 2018: Sections of the Yarra River, Little Yarra River, Woori Yallock, Sheepstation and Cockatoo Creeks.
(For a full map of the investigation area please refer to the VEAC Yellingbo Final Report at http://www.veac.vic.gov.au/yellingbomapping/yellingbo.htm )
The State Government offered a three month grace period to landholders whose licences were cancelled on 30 June, 2016 to help transition into the new arrangements. Landholders do not have to take up this offer, but if they choose to, they will have until 30 September, 2016 to remove any remaining livestock on the land.
How have landholders been notified of the changes?
In August 2011, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change requested the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) to investigate public land in the Yellingbo area, focusing on its biodiversity and ecological values and to make recommendations for appropriate management arrangements to conserve and enhance these values into the future.
A notice of investigation was published in the Age and Herald Sun in November 2011. VEAC set up an online forum and invited submissions from the community and comments. A number of community drop in days were organised, where community members could speak one-on-one with VEAC members. As part of the community consultation, a community reference group was established and there were two written submission periods.
VEAC received 73 submissions following the advertisement of the Notice of Investigation in 2011, and 79 submissions were received in response to the draft proposal paper. Both the previous and current State Government has supported the recommendations in the VEAC Final Report.
DELWP have also directly contacted, by phone and letter, every affected landholder that holds a grazing licence.
Do I have to put up a new fence to keep my stock out? Who will pay for this?
It is the landowner’s responsibility to ensure livestock and other general farming activities are kept on their private freehold property. A fence is the most common practical way to achieve this. To discuss your individual situation, please contact Cindy Wood on 9210 9425 (Monday to Wednesday) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding assistance for stock-proof fencing may be available for eligible applicants through Melbourne Water’s Stream Frontage Management Program. Funding for this program is limited, and will be prioritised to landowners who apply early, and to those who currently hold a licence to occupy the Crown land.
To find out more about the program and to make an application, you can visit Melbourne Water’s website at www.melbournewater.com.au and search for ‘Stream Frontage Management Program’. Or you can contact Edwina Manifold on 9679 6823 or email email@example.com.
Who will have to maintain fencing?
Landowners will be responsible for ongoing maintenance of fences to ensure livestock are kept within their private property.
My family has been managing and grazing the Crown land frontage for years. Why do I have to remove my stock?
The historic removal of vegetation, deep soil cultivation and grazing of hard-hoofed grazing animals on Crown land frontage in the VEAC Yellingbo investigation area has had a significant impact on the environment and biodiversity.
Direct stock access to waterways can affect river health and water quality by introducing pathogens and nutrients from stock faeces and urine, causing an increased risk of disease. Stock access can also cause erosion and the disturbance of stream banks, and the resulting sediment can harm aquatic life and cause ecosystem damage.
For this reason, recommendations C1-C8 in the VEAC Final Report include the removal of streamside grazing within the newly established State Emblems Conservation Area to enable rehabilitation of the public land.
Am I entitled to compensation?
No. The Crown land where grazing is to be removed has always been public land, owned by the State Government. Since the finalisation of the VEAC investigation, licence fees have not been charged.
Do I need to remove the existing fence if a new one is being constructed on a new alignment?
Ultimately, yes; however, this will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In some instances it may be beneficial for management purposes to maintain the original fence line until further rehabilitation works have taken place.
Can I re-use the materials from my existing fence for the new fence on the Crown land boundary?
Yes. Wherever appropriate, we encourage the re-use of materials if they are in good condition.
Can I get a licence for the Crown land?
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) may issue a riparian management licence for the Crown land to allow landholders to access and manage this land for riparian management purposes (non-grazing). If you would like to find out more about this, please contact Enviroplan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you apply for funding under Melbourne Water’s Stream Frontage Management Program, you will be eligible for a Riparian Management Licence.
I have infrastructure (sheds, pumps, stockpiles) on the Crown land – what will happen to this?
Pumping infrastructure may be allowed to remain on Crown Land. This will be assessed on a case by case basis. Schedule 4(@) of the National Parks Act, is being reviewed to allow this to occur. The retention of private assets on Crown Land will only apply to pumping infrastructure to ensure stock watering. All other infrastructure must be removed from Crown Land.
There may be the opportunity to move a pump out of the reserve onto freehold land or to consolidate and/or upgrade pumps so they can be located on freehold land.
As with a lot of these matters, circumstances will be different for each property, which is why DELWP is willing to come out on site and discuss with landowners their particular circumstances and work with them to reach a suitable solution.