Western lands leases
Nearly all the land in the Western Division is held under Western lands leases granted under the Western Lands Act 1901. From 1 July 2018, this legislation was replaced by the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (the Act).
The 6,600 Western lands leases in NSW include:
- 4,300 for grazing
- 573 for agriculture
- 1,593 for residence
- 165 for businesses.
These figures are subject to change as leases are purchased and converted to freehold title.
The Act also includes provisions for many Western lands leaseholders to apply to purchase their leases to obtain freehold title, subject to certain eligibility criteria.
Conditions are attached to each Western lands lease to ensure the land is managed sustainably. That means that land must not be over-grazed and that approvals must be obtained to cultivate land and to subdivide or transfer the lease. The minister has the power to impose notices on lessees to destock areas, refrain from certain activities, or rehabilitate damaged or degraded areas.
Term and purpose
Most leases are perpetual (ongoing) and can only be used for a designated purpose. The Act makes provisions for the carrying out of approved activities on perpetual Western lands leases, in addition to the existing activities authorised by the lease purpose, as long as the activity does not become the primary use of the land.
The approved activities, such as farm tourism, recreation and sport and leisure events, are prescribed in the Crown Land Management Regulation 2018. The activity must comply with any requirements specified in the regulations.
If different or additional uses (outside of the approved activities) are sought, or the approved activity will become the primary use of the land, then an application to alter the lease purpose or lease conditions must be made which may require a review of environmental factors.
The Crown charges an annual rent for leases. In accordance with the Act, grazing and agriculture lease rents are based on the total area of the property and on the environmental impact of the land use, including a credit for managed conservation. Rents for residential and business leases are 3% and 6% of the unimproved land value, respectively.
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