The NSW Government has launched the state’s Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) in a landmark move to strengthen regulation and compliance issues around water management.
The NRAR will be an independent regulator established under the Natural Resources Access Regulator Act 2017 and has total carriage of the compliance and enforcement of water regulation in the state of NSW.
The NRAR was established following the investigation into water management and compliance conducted in 2017, the result of which called for an independent and more effective regulatory body, with responsibility for water regulation in NSW.
Prior to the NRAR, these functions were split between the NSW Government and WaterNSW.
The NRAR will focus on water regulation, with the objective to ensure efficient and transparent compliance and enforcement measures are implemented.
The new regulator will also aim to maintain public confidence in the enforcement of the natural resources management legislation.
NSW Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair, said the NRAR will begin to carry out on-the-ground compliance inspections, with a new hotline established for the public to report any compliance concerns.
“We’ve met with communities across the state and know that a robust water compliance and enforcement system is vital for maintaining public confidence in water management,” Mr Blair said.
“We’ve wasted no time in getting on with the job and I am pleased to see the regulator hit the ground running with its first compliance mission happening in just a few days.
“Anyone looking to circumvent the regulations and make unlawful, inequitable or non-compliant use of this precious natural resource is on notice.”
The NRAR will be chaired by former NSW Minister and former Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Chair Craig Knowles and the Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes.
“We have a strong and highly experienced executive team backed by an independent Board, and with resources now transferred from WaterNSW to NRAR, we are ready to be fully operational and a leading example of best-practice regulation,” Mr Knowles said.
“We will be adopting a firm but fair approach to compliance and regulatory matters, and increasing awareness and education of licence holders’ obligations will be fundamental to improved voluntary compliance.
“But let’s be very clear – we will not hesitate to act should our compliance teams find anyone breaking the law and we’re encouraging the public to call the hotline if they have concerns.”