Water licence fee plan in pipeline
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.