A NSW Government website

Reconnecting River Country Program

Landholder Negotiation Scheme

Developing a transparent, equitable and fair approach to negotiating agreements with landholders.

Farmers walking the land.

Providing consistency and certainty for landholders affected by releases of water for environmental purposes.

About the proposed Landholder Negotiation Scheme

The NSW Government is developing a state-wide Landholder Negotiation Scheme (formerly know as the Landholder Negotiation Framework) setting out the approach to negotiating agreements with landholders affected by water for the environment being delivered at higher flow levels than current operating practice.

Where landholders are assessed as being affected by these flow deliveries, the NSW Government has committed to mitigating impacts through agreements reached with landholders.

The scheme aims to ensure the negotiation process is transparent, equitable, fair and consistent.

It will:

  • be simple to understand and administer
  • be based on long-term environmental delivery objectives, not event-based delivery
  • provide a consistent and transparent process for reaching agreement on mitigation
  • enable streamlined and time-bound negotiations.

The scheme will be established through amendments to the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018, under the Water Management Act 2000.

Flow chart

See the proposed steps to reach agreement with landholders.

Download the flow chart (.PDF 104KB)

Why the scheme is required

The Reconnecting River Country Program aims to achieve a balance of economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes across southern NSW by improving wetland and floodplain connectivity.

The program focuses on relaxing or removing some of the constraints including physical, operational and policy barriers impacting the delivery of water for the environment across the southern-connected Murray–Darling.

Achieving these wetland and floodplain outcomes comes with some potential impacts as well as benefits for landholders and communities.

The program will likely mean changes to river management meaning at times low-level inundation of some areas will occur.

The potential impacts to landholders include:

  • inundation of land
  • periodic loss of access
  • impacts on existing infrastructure.

To manage potential impacts, we are committed to a transparent, equitable, fair, and consistent process to ensure landholders can negotiate agreements on mitigation measures.

The Landholder Negotiation Scheme will be a key tool to protect the interests of landholders and ensure all negotiations on mitigation measures are conducted in good faith.

Previous engagement

As part of the scheme’s development, a discussion paper (PDF, 987.08 KB) was developed to enable the community to understand the proposed process, and to provide interested parties with the opportunity to inform the development of the final scheme. It included discussion questions to seek stakeholder feedback.

The discussion paper was put on public exhibition from 7 March 2022 to 15 April 2022, and during this period a total of 30 submissions were received.

The submissions included responses from 23 private landholders and community members, six organisations and one irrigation infrastructure operator.

‘What you said, what we did’ report

An agency expert review panel has considered submissions and a ‘What you said, what we did’ report has been released to inform stakeholders on the feedback received and the actions we are taking based on this feedback.

The report includes a summary of:

  • the public engagement and consultation process
  • the submissions and feedback, including concerns, support and suggested improvements
  • our response and proposed actions to the feedback and how it will inform the proposed regulation amendments.

View the full What you said, what we did report (PDF, 702.13 KB).

Next steps

The submissions to the Landholder Negotiation Scheme discussion paper will be considered and, wherever possible, integrated into the next phase of the its development.

Consultation is ongoing for the program and we will continue to engage with directly affected landholders and stakeholders. While consultation on a proposed regulation must comply with legislation, the program’s process of collaborative engagement with affected landholders and stakeholders will continue.

Stakeholders are encouraged to have their say when consultation begins on the proposed amendments to the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018. Information on this state-wide consultation process, and the draft amendment, will be made publicly available on this webpage.

To receive updates on the consultation, subscribe to the Reconnecting River Country Program mailing list.

More information

For more information on the Reconnecting River Country Program and the Landholder Negotiation Scheme: