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Landowners reject ‘red tape cuts’ for fossickers

Thursday, 28th December, 2017

A bid by the NSW and ACT Prospectors and Fossicker Association to have the Unincorported Area declared a fossicking district has been rejected by the Western Lands Division and West Darling pastoralists A bid by the NSW and ACT Prospectors and Fossicker Association to have the Unincorported Area declared a fossicking district has been rejected by the Western Lands Division and West Darling pastoralists

By Myles Burt

A bid by the NSW and ACT Prospectors and Fossicker Association to have the Unincorported Area declared a fossicking district has been rejected by the Western Lands Division and West Darling pastoralists. 

The proposal was asking the Western Land Division to declare the Unincorporated Area as a fossicking district.

Yet, the Western Lands Division felt this was an unwise decision after speaking with Far West landowners.

NAPFA President Steven Dengaard, is working on a state level to help increase the number of declared fossicking districts across NSW.

Fossickers have to ask the lease landowners and also exploration lease owners for permission to fossick.

However, Mr Dengaard seeks to declare the Unincorporated Area a fossicking district so that fossickers only have to ask lease landowners, and remove permission request for exploration lease owners.

With the decision from the Western Land Division and Pastoralists, Mr Dengaard felt the rejection was a missed opportunity.

“When we looked at the Western lands Division, because of the extent of it and the potential for fossicking geo-tourism in the area, we said this would potentially make it more attractive for people to visit the Western Lands Division.”

Mr Dengaard said that fossicking brings tens of millions of dollars into the NSW economy, and would greatly benefit the geo-tourism scene that is prominent in Tibooburra.

Mr Dengaard said that asking for permission is hard due to exploration lease owners being hard to contact, and then being responsive to requests, on top of further finding and asking for lease landowner permission.

“Just simply cuts out a bit of red tape for fossickers when they want to go out in any area of NSW.”

West Darling Pastoralists President Lachlan Gall was sceptical over the proposal, believing fossickers were trying to remove permission requests from both exploration land owners and pastoralists.

This was due to a paragraph referencing grazing lease permission being under question on the NAPFA website stating.

“Where land is freehold permission of the landowner would still be important. But where it is leasehold, such as a grazing lease, it is not fair or right that access can be denied - as it often is - without justification or appeal.”

Mr Gall said a fossicking district could lead to further proposals that could affect pastoralists in the Far West.

“It’s very concerning that the prospectors and fossickers association have got an agenda by which they which to remove both aspects of the existing process.”

With the knowledge that the NAPFA want to bypass exploration permission, Mr Gall said that exploration leases hold a second layer of protection against trespassers.

A spokesperson for the Western Lands Division said the reasoning is due to trespassing, public liability over large land ownership and abiding to the Biosecurity Act 2015.

“Leaseholders were concerned that declaring the area a fossicking district would impact their ability to comply with requirements under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and under some certification and accreditation schemes.”

Mr Gall said that having fossickers entering properties during lambing season could negatively impact those properties due to the lamb and ewe having a fragile bond during its first couple of weeks, that if disturbed can lead to abandonment of the lamb.

“Pastoralists aren’t going to block legitimate prospectors and fossickers without good reason.”

However, even with the rejection of the proposed declaration by the NAPFA, fossickers are still able to fossick in the Unincorporated Area, according to the Western Land Division.

“Regardless of the outcome of the NAPFA’s proposal, fossickers and prospectors are still able approach individual leaseholders to negotiate access to properties.”

Mr Gall has no opposition to fossickers coming into the area, only under the right requirements.

“The provision is already there, just as long as they ask.”

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