New Agritourism legislation challenges the future of local farmland

The Greens candidate for the seat of Kiama, Professor Tonia Gray, is taking on the task of highlighting the threats to one of the electorate’s key resources. “The Kiama electorate is the home of some of Australia’s most rich and productive soils and combined with the excellent local rainfall they provide the basis for what has been a long and productive agricultural industry.”

“Active and productive farmland, provides the basis for an important part of the local economy” she said when addressing the impact of recent changes to the law relating to Agritourism in NSW.

“A constant threat to the agricultural viability of those soils has been the slow spread of residential development which turns the farms into suburbs at the very time that climate change is wreaking havoc with the traditional food bowls in other parts of NSW. However the latest changes to agritourism legislation could well see a more dramatic change in rural land use in the Kiama electorate” she said.

Tonia asks the question, “Is the future of that high quality agricultural land to be continued farming or out of control agritourism and function centres?

Active farmland, together with the rich biodiversity of the hinterland and the escarpment, already provides the background for a very popular tourism destination for the South Coast of NSW. Those farmlands contribute to some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes where rolling green hills and mountains meet the sea”

Prior to the new legislation which provides effectively uncontrolled use of rural land for structures and events with little reference to Councils, small scale agritourism allowed visitors to experience the day to day activities of farm life and for farmers to establish low key farm gate produce outlets with minimum impact.

As part of the campaign to raise public awareness of the overreach of the new legislation and its likely impact Tonia and the Greens are hosting a “Town Hall” style discussion of the future of the agricultural lands of the Kiama electorate. Featured in this discussion will be Greens NSW MLC, farmer and environmental lawyer, Sue Higginson and world renowned paediatrician and environmental activist Dr Helen Caldicott.

For further information on the proposed meeting (see attached flier) and the Greens campaign to challenge the new Agritourism legislation and protect the fertile agricultural lands of Kiama and the South Coast, please contact Tonia by mobile on 0427331127

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