New policy framework for apiary sites on public lands in NSW

Overview

The NSW Government is implementing a whole-of-government policy framework for the management of apiary sites on public lands, including State forests, travelling stock reserves and National Parks.

The framework will streamline administrative arrangements and support industry growth and development through:

  • A fair and transparent allocation system for new and vacant sites via an Expression of Interest (EOI) process that promotes and rewards best practice management by apiarists
  • A standard fee of $175 across all public land sites
  • A standard permit term of five years, with the ability to renew subject to a compliance and usage test
  • A support desk and central online portal that will provide a single point of contact for industry’s dealings with Government.

DPI has led development of the framework in consultation with industry and the key agencies responsible for the sites - Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW), Local Land Services (LLS), and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The draft framework was released for public consultation from May to June 2017. A summary of feedback received is available in this Consultation Report (PDF, 618.11 KB).

The framework will be implemented progressively through the latter half of 2017 and 2018.

Benefits for industry

The policy framework will deliver multiple benefits to industry, including:

  • A common framework for the administration of public land sites across NSW
  • A consistent and transparent process for allocation of new and vacated sites
  • A single pricing structure across all public land sites
  • Permit terms that provide certainty of tenure, while ensuring sites are actively used
  • A single point of contact for industry’s dealings with Government.

Key elements

Policy area

Proposal

Rationale

Allocation

  • New and vacated sites to be allocated in an open and competitive process via Expression of Interest (EOI).
  • EOI criteria to assess competence and compliance through:
    • History of compliance with biosecurity legislation and permit conditions
    • Demonstrated compliance with Biosecurity Code of Practice (e.g. through completion of the Plant Health Australia Biosecurity for Beekeepers online training course)
    • Completion of DPI Pests and Diseases training or demonstrated equivalent experience.
  • Additional support to assist applicants completing EOI.
  • Some circumstances where a permit can be allocated directly to an apiarist, for example:
    • where there is no other demand for the site, or
    • where an apiarist identifies a previously unregistered or long-term vacant site and the relevant agency confirms it to be an appropriate site for beekeeping.
  • Establishes a competitive and transparent process.
  • Allows for merit-based allocation through assessment of apiarists’ compliance history and competencies.
  • Consistent with relevant legislation and policy regarding competitiveness and transparency in the allocation of public resources.

Pricing

  • Standard fee of $175 to apply across all sites, subject to annual CPI increases.
  • Pricing structure to be reviewed after 5-years.
  • Site fee that is based on cost recovery principles and is consistent with pricing of other forms of public land tenure.
  • Administratively efficient.
  • Provides certainty to industry.

Permit term & renewals

  • Permits to be issued for five year term.
  • Renewals to be granted subject to the permit holder passing a compliance and usage test that will assess:
    • compliance with biosecurity legislation and permit conditions
    • level of activity on public land sites.
  • Provides certainty of tenure to support informed business planning and investment decisions.
  • Ensures permits are held by active users that maintain strong compliance.

Apiary Site Support Desk

  • A new Apiary Site Support Desk will be administered by a dedicated officer and include an Online Portal that will:
    • deliver information on the location and availability of apiary sites across NSW
    • provide an integrated customer database so beekeepers can manage all their transactions in one place.
  • Provides a central point of liaison for industry’s dealings with Government in relation to apiary sites.
  • Reduces administrative burdens and improves access to information.

Standard permit conditions

  • A standard set of permit conditions will apply across all public land apiary sites.
  • Each agency will have specific additional conditions relevant to their land type, however major conditions will be consistent.
  • Simplifies permit administration.
  • Provides consistency for industry.

Existing permits

All existing permits that were issued before 1 October 2016 will transition to the new framework as they fall due for renewal and subject to the new annual site fee of $175. Permit holders will have a grace period of 12 months to ensure they have completed the necessary training and/or documentation to meet the compliance and usage test. More information on this test will be communicated to permit holders over the coming months.

Sites that became vacant on or after 1 October 2016 and were issued as an ‘interim permit’ will be renewed for a further 12 month period and subject to the new annual site fee of $175. These permits will eventually be put through a competitive allocation process via EoI. It is anticipated that the first round of EoIs will be held in mid-2018. Holders of interim permits will be notified and invited to apply. More information on this process will be communicated in the coming months.

Next steps

The new framework will be implemented over the next 12 months. Key areas of work include:

  • Finalising standard permit conditions
  • Recruitment for the Apiary Site Support Desk
  • Building and testing the Online Portal
  • Migrating existing permits across to Online Portal
  • Building systems to administer the EoI
  • Piloting the EoI.

Updates on progress of implementation will be provided on this page.

Background

It is estimated that 40 per cent of apiary sites used by commercial apiarists in NSW are on public lands. The key agencies responsible for managing these sites are FCNSW, LLS and NPWS. Of the estimated 9,000 site permits issued, the current distribution is approximately 45 per cent FCNSW, 33 per cent LLS and 22 per cent NPWS.

Existing apiary policies vary between agencies. Different systems of site allocation, pricing, permit tenure and conditions have created administrative burdens and uncertainty for industry. Agencies and industry are in agreement that a consistent and transparent policy framework is needed.

In response to these concerns, DPI led the development of a whole-of-government policy framework for the management of apiary sites on public lands. The framework has been developed in consultation with relevant agencies, the NSW Apiarists’ Association (NSWAA) and individual beekeepers across the State.

The framework will streamline regulatory arrangements by establishing a standard procedure for allocation of sites, pricing, permit tenure and conditions. While individual permits will continue to be issued under the legislative framework of the relevant land manager, agencies will work together to streamline administrative procedures.

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