Pastoral activity in the west Kimberley and national heritage listing
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
The following information aims to help pastoralists and others in the agricultural industry understand the impact of national heritage listing of the west Kimberley.
West Kimberley national heritage listed place
The federal environment minister announced the inclusion of the west Kimberly on the National Heritage List on Wednesday 31 August 2011. This listing recognises the outstanding heritage values of 19 million hectares of the west Kimberley, including Aboriginal, historic, aesthetic, cultural and natural heritage values. It also recognises and celebrates the pastoral history of the region. The west Kimberley national heritage values are now protected by national environment law.
Does national heritage listing affect how a place is used?
National heritage listing is not a means to prevent development. Rather it seeks to ensure that the place's outstanding heritage values are appropriately considered when making decisions.
Ownership and management of the national heritage place remains with the current land owner or manager.
It is the listed national heritage values, and not the entire place, that are protected under national environment law.
Business as usual for farmers in the west Kimberley
National heritage listing for the west Kimberley has no impact on regular day to day pastoral activity. Pastoralists in the west Kimberley will be able to continue with their normal farming activities - cattle can continue to graze and crops can continue to be harvested - it is business as usual.
Be mindful of the listing before undertaking big new projects
Under national environment law it is only major new or expanded activities that might need to be considered for approval.
For example, a very large scale new irrigation project might need assessment and approval before it can go ahead. Or a big new development that might damage or destroy an aboriginal rock art site would need assessment and approval before it could go ahead. When embarking on major new activity pastoralists in the west Kimberley should consider if their new activity could significantly impact on the listed national heritage values of the west Kimberley. Given the broad scale of many of the national heritage values in the west Kimberley, most pastoral related activities are unlikely to require approval.
During the extensive public consultation process for the west Kimberley heritage listing, the federal environment department released draft referral guidelines. These guidelines were developed to provide practical information on the kinds of actions that could potentially have a significant impact on the west Kimberley's national heritage listed values and might require referral under national environment law.
These draft guidelines indicate it is highly unlikely that pastoral activities would have a significant impact on the national heritage values of the west Kimberley.
Environment liaison officer
The federal environment department's environment liaison officer is here to help farmers and pastoralists in the west Kimberley to understand and operate within national environment law and can help with any questions or uncertainties you may have.
The environment liaison officer is your first point of call when considering any new farm activity that may significantly impact on the listed heritage values in the west Kimberley. The liaison officer is happy to take your calls or emails and can be contacted on Freecall: 1800 704 520 (including from mobiles) or 02 6273 3855 (NFF switch), or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a referral
Under national environment law, it is and pastoralists' responsibility to determine if any new farm activity requires referral under national environment law. If you think that your new intended activity might require approval you should not proceed until you have checked with the environmental liaison officer (1800 704 520).
To get a decision under national environment law you need to fill in a referral form describing what activity you intend to carry out, where it is to occur and what the likely environmental impacts are.
The referral form is available at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/assessments/referral-form.html
If you need help with the form you can contact the federal environment department's environment liaison officer on 1800 704 520.
Within 20 business days of submitting the referral form, the department will determine whether further assessment and approval is required or whether the activity can proceed immediately. Once a decision is made you will be notified immediately.
If the federal environment department finds your activity won't have a significant impact on a nationally listed heritage value, the department will let you know within 20 business days either:
- that your project can go ahead with no further assessment, or
- that your project can go ahead with no further assessment, as long as certain measures are in place to minimise its environmental impact.
If your proposal is likely to have a significant impact on a nationally protected matter it will need to undergo further assessment.
The department will help you navigate the assessment process and keep you informed of the progress of your submission. Once the assessment is completed your activity could still get the go ahead, as long as you carry it out in line with the conditions as described by the department.
It is important to note that the department's draft referral guidelines indicate that it is highly unlikely pastoral activity will have a significant impact on the listed national heritage values of the west Kimberley.
For more information on national environment law, national heritage listing go to www.environment.gov.au or contact the environment liaison officer on 1800 704 520.