Wa­ter li­cence fee plan in pipe­line

Countryman - - NEWS - Daniel Mercer

Thou­sands of land­hold­ers and farm­ers face be­ing slugged hefty fees for wa­ter li­cences un­der a McGowan Govern­ment pro­posal that could raise up to $30 mil­lion a year in ex­tra money.

In a move the State Op­po­si­tion branded a cash grab, the De­part­ment of Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­men­tal Reg­u­la­tion has flagged charg­ing medium-sized wa­ter users “cost-re­flec­tive” fees for li­cences.

The pro­posal would af­fect up to 13,000 users such as fruit and veg­etable grow­ers and farm­ers who need a li­cence to take wa­ter from aquifers or rivers and streams to run their busi­nesses.

It would ap­ply to all new and re­newed li­cences, though not to rain­wa­ter dams com­monly seen through­out the Wheat­belt.

The de­part­ment has re­leased a con­sul­ta­tion pa­per on the pro­posal in which it sug­gested the State had picked up the tab for is­su­ing li­cences for too long. “Govern­ment con­sid­ers WA tax­pay­ers bear­ing al­most the full cost of pro­vid­ing reg­u­la­tory ser­vices un­sus­tain­able,” the de­part­ment said.

Shadow wa­ter min­is­ter David Honey said the fees would un­fairly hit smaller farm­ers who had built dams for ir­ri­ga­tion.

“Hav­ing hit strug­gling West Aus­tralian fam­i­lies and house­holds with cost-of-liv­ing in­creases of $700 a year, the McGowan La­bor Govern­ment now has farm­ers in its sights,” Dr Honey said.

A Govern­ment spokes­woman said no de­ci­sions had been taken to ap­ply fees to wa­ter li­cence or per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions pend­ing com­ple­tion of talks with Wa­ter Min­is­ter Dave Kelly, and stake­hold­ers.

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