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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Hope for farmers affected by fire

A NSW Government fire recovery program is helping Hunter and MidCoast landholders to rebuild and reshape their properties after last summer’s harrowing bushfires.

Property owners Bob Nicholas and Louise Veale have a 20 hectare property with a large orchard and cattle agistment in the Caparra area near Wingham.

Bob and Louise had 99% of their property burnt during last summer’s devastating fires, including almost five kilometres of boundary and internal fences.

Miraculously, their home and large orchard were spared.

“We were pretty lucky really, but we did lose around three and a half kilometres of public land boundary fencing which impacted our cattle agistment,” Louise said.

Rebuilding boundary fences is a first crucial step for many fire affected farmers, who have destocked or are continuing to care for any remaining stock and pastures coming into summer.

The NSW Government has committed $209 million to helping bushfire-affected landholders with the cost of rebuilding boundary fences adjoining public lands, under the Supporting our Neighbours program.

Private landholders who share a boundary with public land and were impacted by the Northern and Southern fires of late 2019 and early 2020 are eligible to receive up to $5,000 per kilometre to contribute to the replacement of damaged boundary fences.

“I found the support provided by Local Land Services for fencing easy to apply for and it felt uplifting to have someone helping us after such a difficult experience,” Louise said.

“The major advantage of this process was how easy it was for us as landowners to apply for the $17,000 funding we received and the compassionate staff who assisted us.”

The fencing has also helped Bob and Louise protect 350 trees they planted to help regenerate the Caparra Creek area of their property since the fires.

The property at Caparra re-fenced after funding from the Supporting our Neighbours program.

Supporting our Neighbours Team Leader Adam Downey said Local Land Services staff are working incredibly hard to process applications for support.

“So far in the Hunter and Mid Coast more than 180 fencing contracts have been funded, and more than 65% of applications have been serviced since April,” Adam Downey said.

“Our staff are available to help landholders with their Supporting our Neighbours program applications and are continuing to work hard to process applications as quickly as possible.

“The program remains open until mid 2021 and we have a dedicated team working to process new EOI applications from eligible landholders in our region over the coming months, please be patient with us through this process, we will get to you. “

If you are a Hunter or Mid Coast landholder who lost boundary fences during the last bushfire season, you may be eligible for further support.

More information about the Supporting Our Neighbours boundary fence grants is available here or by calling 1300 778 080.