Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has released a draft Private Members Bill on agritourism following community concerns about the adverse impacts of deregulated practices on farming properties and rural communities.

“Properly regulated, agritourism can be a real boost for farmers, tourism, jobs and the local economy. I support agritourism, but the current unrestricted expansion of this industry will come at the expense of neighbouring property owners who have the right to the quiet enjoyment of their properties,” Mr Ward said.

“Prior to the State Election, the then Planning Minister intervened and reneged on assurances given by the Department of Planning by unilaterally mandating a free-for-all with everything from function centres, restaurants, caravans, campervans, and camping allowed on any land where agriculture is permitted – all without any council involvement, a development application or consideration for its impact.

“The Minister brushed aside government assurances that agritourism “must be ancillary to agricultural use of the land” and mandated that landowners can now “earn more from agritourism than primary production”.

“Everyone from NSW Farmers to the Country Woman’s Association has expressed concerns about the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach across the State that risks fragmentation of precious agricultural land in NSW and removes the right of local communities to have a say in the future of their rural environment.

“My Bill will recognise the role agritourism plays whilst giving councils the opportunity to consult and regulate this activity to ensure we achieve the right balance which addresses tourism, environmental issues, biosecurity, public safety, and possible land use conflicts.

“I am releasing this bill for public comment and feedback for 28 days. I will consider the submissions prior to introducing the final bill for debate in Parliament.

“I encourage people from all sides of this debate to make considered submissions and I look forward to hearing the feedback through my office.”