Ratepayers in natural disaster declared areas are able to defer payment of their annual Local Land Services rates until 27 August 2015.

June 2015, Issue No.4 

Storms and floods challenge Hunter land holders

Susan Hooke

The past couple of month have been challenging for our local land managers, industries and communities, with extensive storms and flooding damaging much of the Lower Hunter. 

On behalf of the Hunter Local Board I wish to express my support to our many customers, colleagues and friends who have been affected. 

I encourage those requiring help to access the advice and assistance provided by Hunter Local Land Services in areas such as: livestock health and welfare; pasture, feed and stock options; reporting and assessing damage and property planning (including fencing).

The storm and floods have provided an early test of our new organisation, working with the State Emergency Service, Department of Primary Industries to help Hunter land holders. Our staff responded to more than 148 requests for assistance, distributed 20 tonnes of emergency fodder to 1,800 cattle and 480 horses and even food to 50,000 stranded chickens. 
I would like to thank them for their dedication and professionalism. 

Of course there remains much work to be done and I look forward to discussing how we can support your recovery efforts.

Recovery services for flood-affected land holders

Brett Miners
General Manager
The Commonwealth and New South Wales governments this week announced grants of up to $15,000 will be available for eligible primary producers. 

The grants, funded under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, are available in the local government areas of Dungog, Great Lakes, Maitland, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Singleton and to parishes of Branxton, Heddon and Stockrington. Oyster growers in Port Stephens and Brisbane Waters are also eligible.

Hunter LLS and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will be providing a range of information and support sessions for primary producers in coming weeks - with the aim of supporting as many eligible farmers as possible to apply and secure funds to assist their recovery.

In the meantime further information and application forms are available from the Rural Assistance Authority website:

Natural Disaster Relief Scheme grants - information and application forms

The NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the grants while visiting the Hunter earlier this week (see below). The Premier reinforced the importance of assisting primary producers to recover from the flood and the commitment of the NSW Government to provide practical support. He encouraged all eligible primary producers to apply for a recovery grant.

Funds flow for flood hit farmers

Flood hit farmers in the Hunter Valley will receive a much needed funding boost, with grants up to $15,000 available to repair the damage bill from last April’s devastating East Coast low. 

Read the full article in The Land: 
Funds flow for flood hit farmers

Image courtesy of The Land.
Hunter Local Land Services continues to provide important support services to our customers affected by the storms and floods. Our officers are available to help with information and support on livestock, pasture and property issues.

Our most recent Animal Health Newsletter also provides detailed advice from our team of District Veterinarians on a range of flood-related issues. 

Importantly, our ratepayers in natural disaster declared areas will be able to defer payment of their annual Local Land Services rates until 27 August 2015. I also encourage them to consider the payment plans available to them. 

Please note that, due to limitations in our business systems , ratepayers who chose to defer payment of rates will still receive a notification of outstanding rates. Ratepayers in flood-affected areas who deferred payment of rates can ignore these outstanding rates notices until after 27 August 2015.  We apologise for any inconvenience.

We have produced a short video outlining the range of options available to affected landholders. We also have a Flood Resource Pack for landholders, which provides a complete list of relevant contacts and services available from the Department of Primary Industries, Rural Assistance Authority and other agencies. This includes:
  • Disaster relief loans and transport subsidies (Rural Assistance Authority)
  • Disaster relief grants (Police and Emergency Services)
  • Fencing assistance (Blazeaid)
  • Free financial counselling (Rural Financial Counselling Services)
  • Mental health and wellbeing support services
  • Free legal advice (Legal Aid NSW)
For further information you can call the DPI Hotline on 1800 814 647.

Can I clear dangerous trees?

Nicolai Cooper
Senior Land Services Officer

Following the storms and floods many landholders are seeking advice about removing dangerous trees from their properties. 

There are a range of exemptions for clearing under the Native Vegetation Act called Routine Agricultural Management Activities (RAMAs) that do not require consent from Hunter Local Land Services. Clearing that is considered necessary to remove or reduce an imminent risk of serious personal injury or serious damage to property is a RAMA, provided it is undertaken to the minimum extent necessary. 

You do not need to notify or seek permission from Hunter Local Land Services to apply a RAMA. It is advisable, however, for landholders to keep evidence that justifies the use of the imminent risk RAMA. Evidence could include photographs or a report from an arborist that demonstrates that the tree poses serious imminent risk. It is possible that the vegetation may be protected under another form of legislation, for example the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 or under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.  You would need to check with the administering organisations such as your local council or Office of Environment and Heritage to determine this.  Please note, you can only implement RAMAs on your own property.

If you would like more information about RAMAs or you have other native vegetation clearing inquiries, please contact Hunter Local Land Services for further advice. We are here to help you to protect and increase the viability of your property. Please note that it is illegal to use RAMAs to progressively clear land for a purpose outside the scope of the RAMA.

There are more details available on our website: 

Can I clear dangerous trees in my backyard?

Consider reducing cattle numbers for winter

Digby Rayward
District Veterinarian

Going into winter, pasture quality and quantity can be a challenge. Following the flood event we are already responding to RSPCA requests for advice, as some stock holders remain overstocked and with limited feed available. Unless action follows there is a real threat that they may face a 'failure to feed" prosecution from the RSPCA.
Stock owners should seriously consider reducing numbers during this feed squeeze as cattle prices are very good. If they take the option to feed path, they should consider the economics and extra work involved carefully. 

Further advice from our District Veterinarians on flood-related issues is available in our most recent Animal Health Newsletter.

Tell your flood story

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, in conjunction with local Councils, has launched a community survey aimed at collecting information direct from community members relating to their experience of the recent flooding event that affected the Hunter Region. Community members can find the online survey at:

Profiling our oyster farms

Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) is working with six oyster farmers in the Wallis Lake estuary to develop farm profiles. The farm profiles accurately describe production methods, materials used and opportunities to improve sustainability. A map of each farmers leases is produced and includes the infrastructure layout within each lease.

The growers can now use this to plan for changes such as adopting new and more production methods.

Hunter LLS is also providing financial assistance to the farmers involved, to implement 'on-ground/in-water' actions to improve sustainability, identified through the farm profiles. This pilot project is expected to be expanded to other farms in the region.

For further information email

What are your priorties?

Hunter Local Land Services has a commitment to develop and deliver high quality services targeted to our local communities. We want to know what your concerns and your priorities are, so we can tailor the services we provide to you.

Complete the LLS Service Delivery Survey.

Your say on our strategic plan

The forthcoming Hunter Local Land Services Strategic Plan will prioritise and direct our customer services, partnerships and investment across the Hunter region for the next 5 years. It will outline how we will continue to work together with the community to improve outcomes in the sustainable management of primary production, natural resource management, biosecurity and emergency management. 

We'd like to get your feedback on the plan. To register your interest go to our online community forum at:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle trial

Hunter LLS has successfully trialled the spraying of native vegetation regrowth using a drone as an alternate to a helicopter and the thinning of native vegetation.

Aerial spraying is commonly used in the upper Manning Valley to treat native vegetation regrowth and weeds on steep lands inaccessible to ground based spray techniques. It aims to increase pasture cover for grazing. Aerial spraying using helicopters often results in off-target killing of remnant native vegetation so may breach the Native Vegetation Act.

Hunter LLS conducted a trial spray to test the feasibility of UAVs for precision aerial spraying. The drone was able to achieve accurate results without off-target kill to remnant vegetation.

The thinning trial highlighted how landowners can manage native vegetation without approval, in accordance with self-assessable codes and demonstrates that landowners can improve pasture conditions as a result of thinning operations.

Watch the video: 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) spraying native vegetation regrowth

Practical Grazing Management Workshops

Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) recently hosted free practical grazing workshops offering practical advice on grazing management.

The well-attended workshops covered key practices such as grazing to improve soil organic matter, pasture grass budgeting, paddock planning and optimising pasture yields. A highlight was the presentation by Dick Richardson on change and diversity in grazing practices and pasture management.

Watch the video:

Dick Richardson  - change and diversity in grazing practices and pasture management

Successful end to autumn aerial baiting

Autumn aerial baiting operations in the Hunter LLS have concluded, with the baiting undertaken in partnership with all 13 Wild Dog Associations (WDAs) in the region. 

Aerial baiting operations in the Hunter LLS occur on both private and public lands and is an activity which takes significant coordination with adjoining LLS regions, local Wild Dog Association (WDA) members and other stakeholders including National Parks and Wildlife Services and Forest Corporation to best achieve effective wild dog control. Aerial baiting is just one component of a well-planned and coordinated approach to control of wild dogs throughout the year.

The team successfully targeted:
    •    187 private holdings
    •    7 National Parks
    •    4 State Forests
    •    1 Travelling Stock Route

In all, the program saw 28,217 baits dropped along 842 kilometres of bait trail. Local groups have since been following up with intensive ground-bating programs.

All landholders are reminded of their obligations to control pest animals on their property and the support available through Hunter LLS to support them in this important property management task.

To find out more about group control programs in your area contact your local Local Land Services office.

Weaner management field day

This field day at 'Knowla'  on 2 July will focus on weaner management, weaner health and genetics. The speakers will discuss how management, health and genetics affect profitability. Landowners Ted and James Laurie will show how to match your country and pasture conditions with the right genetic potential. Andrew Byrne from the Angus society will explain how Australian Breeding Values can assist in genetic selection and how this is expressed in animals on the property. 

Full details on our website: Weaner and EBV field day

Prograze abridged two-day workshop

The intensive two day workshop (21-22 July) will help participants to develop skills in assessing pasture and animal production, and to learn how to develop pasture and livestock management plans.

Further details on our website: Prograze abridged two-day workshop

Contact us

Call 1300 795 299 to contact your Local Land Service office from Monday to Friday during business hours. You can also email us at

We also have staff based at a number of locations throughout the Hunter. A full list is available on our website:  
Hunter Local Land Services office locations
Google +
Google +
Click here to complete our Service Delivery Survey