Boundary fencing policy

Under certain conditions, we will share the cost of boundary fencing with adjoining landowners.

Assistance for fire damaged fences

Due to the extensive damage to boundary fences in the 2019-20 bushfires season, the NSW Government has established a coordinated response to the replacement of boundary fences that adjoin publicly managed land. This includes lands adjoining national parks.

Local Land Services is coordinating this $209 million dollar fencing program on behalf of all agencies, including National Parks and Wildlife Service. If you are seeking assistance with fire damaged fences that adjoin national parks please go to Local Land Services: Fencing or telephone 1300 778 080.

If you have recently submitted an application for assistance with fire damaged fences to National Parks and Wildlife Service, your application will be automatically referred to Local Land Services for assessment and you will be contacted by Local Land Services directly. No further action is required from you.

Fence

Boundary fencing is fencing that is constructed along, or close to, the legal boundary of a reserve managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

NPWS recognises the importance of working with adjoining landowners to manage common boundaries.

Policy

  1. NPWS will help park neighbours to construct, repair or replace boundary fencing, as described in this policy.
  2. NPWS's assistance with fencing will be subject to the availability of funding and staff resources, and to meeting its other responsibilities under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) for managing national parks.
  3. If an existing fencing agreement is inconsistent with this policy, the conditions of the existing agreement will prevail.
  1. NPWS will consider helping with the construction of new boundary fencing when the fencing would:
    • provide a clear physical indication of park boundaries where there is a legal requirement to do so or where it would clearly benefit both NPWS and an adjoining landowner
    • prevent the movement of domestic stock onto a park
    • help to protect and conserve the natural or cultural values of a park
    • control the movement of people and vehicles for public safety
    • control the movement of people and vehicles to enhance fire control or reduce undesirable or illegal activities in a park
    • repair or replace a fence damaged or destroyed by flood, fire or other natural event.
  1. NPWS will provide only the materials for a new boundary fence. The adjoining landowner has to undertake or organise the construction.
  2. NPWS's contribution of materials and/or labour to the construction of a new fence must be specified in a fencing agreement between NPWS and the landholder.
  3. The fencing agreement must also specify for how long NPWS's contribution will be valid after the agreement is finalised. NPWS's contribution will expire 12 months after the date of the agreement or once the fence is constructed (whichever comes first).
  1. NPWS will contribute to the construction of a standard stock-proof fence that is used commonly in the region. If a landowner requires or wishes to have a higher standard of fencing, they must meet the additional costs of that fencing.
  2. The type of fencing to which NPWS will contribute should be specified in the fencing agreement.
  1. Fences should be built on the boundary where possible. However, sometimes that is difficult because of steep, rocky terrain or because the boundary has many changes of direction. In that case, the fence line can be changed to a better and mutually agreed line. This may involve moving the fence onto the park, onto the neighbour's property, or preferably onto both the park and the neighbour's property (a 'give and take' fence line).
  2. All details of a 'give and take' fence line must be specified in the fencing agreement and the agreed fence line must be accepted and agreed to by both NPWS and the landowner in writing. This does not affect legal property boundaries.
  1. An appropriate level of environmental assessment must be completed before NPWS and the landowner enter into a fencing agreement. (See Environmental assessment.)
  2. NPWS and the landowner must enter into a fencing agreement before construction of a new fence begins. The agreement must include:
    • NPWS's contribution to the fence's construction in terms of materials and/or labour (NPWS will provide materials only)
    • where the fence will be constructed (that is, along the surveyed boundary or another line)
    • which land will be fenced (attach a map to the agreement)
    • the estimated length of fencing
    • the type of fence required (for example, for controlling pest animals or controlling stock)
    • details of required materials
    • estimated length of clearing required within the park and required equipment
    • when the agreement will expire – the agreement will expire 12 months after it is made, but a different timeframe can be specified
    • when fencing materials will be delivered – NPWS will only deliver materials just before construction.
  1. Clearing vegetation up to 6 metres from the fence line is usually sufficient for its construction. The distance required depends on:
    • terrain and its steepness
    • difficulty of access
    • risk of soil erosion
    • any dead, dangerous, or overhanging trees.
  2. Other issues to consider when deciding appropriate clearing distances within a park include:
    • access for fire-fighting – Can safe access be provided by, for example, regularly spaced turning bays or gates in the fence?
    • provisions of the Rural Fires Act 1997 (section 76) that require the removal of combustible matter for 6 metres from a boundary fence
    • the 'give and take' principle (that is, balancing larger clearing distances with less clearing along other parts of the fence line).
  3. Proposed clearing distances should be addressed and justified in the environmental assessment for the fence (see Environmental assessment).
  1. The level of required environmental assessment will be determined in accordance with existing NPWS environmental assessment guidelines and procedures.
  2. As a minimum, NPWS will complete a conservation risk assessment (CRA) to assess potential environmental impacts of the fence's construction. A more comprehensive assessment, via a review of environmental factors (REF), may be required if the potential impacts are greater.
  1. After the fence is built the landowner is responsible for maintaining it. NPWS may help with maintaining a fence damaged by a fire, flood or other natural event (see What happens if a fence is damaged or destroyed?).
  1. When a fence is damaged or destroyed by a fire, flood or other natural event, NPWS will consider and may approve requests for assistance to repair or replace the fence through a streamlined process, as long as:
    • only standard fencing is required
    • the fence will follow the existing fence line
    • fencing materials will be used within 12 months.
  2. Under a streamlined process for assessing fences damaged or destroyed by a natural event:
    • NPWS will process requests quickly and make them a priority ahead of other fencing applications
    • existing fencing agreements stay in force and don't have to be renewed
    • if there is no fencing agreement, NPWS will prepare a new agreement as a priority.
    No formal environmental assessment is required but NPWS will review any existing information, including known Aboriginal or historic heritage sites and threatened species data, to avoid potential impacts. If impacts are unavoidable, additional statutory approvals may be required.
  1. NPWS will record new boundary fences on its asset register (the NPWS Asset Management System).
  2. Recording a boundary fence on the Asset Management System will enable NPWS to respond more efficiently to a request by an adjoining landowner to assist with the repair or replacement of a fence damaged or destroyed by fire, flood or other natural event.
  1. The landowner requests fencing assistance from the local NPWS Office. (You can find the relevant NPWS Office on the NSW National Parks site, search by park name or location.)
  2. NPWS discusses request with the landowner and visits the site.
  3. NPWS determines if the request is consistent with this policy. If not, it discusses alternatives with the landowner.
  4. If the request is consistent with this policy and approved, NPWS then makes a formal offer of assistance to the landowner.
  5. NPWS prepares a conservation risk assessment (or review of environmental factors, if required).
  6. NPWS and the landowner agree on conditions and enter into a fencing agreement.
  7. The fence is built within 12 months or as agreed.

Policy adopted January 1998
Policy last updated January 2020

Scope and application

This policy applies to all lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) except for lands reserved under Part 4A of the Act (unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy). However, NPWS staff can use the policy as guidance in their dealings with Boards of Management.

This policy applies to all fencing separating parks and adjoining lands, whether the fence is on the surveyed boundary of the adjoining land or on a mutually agreed line other than the surveyed boundary.

Objectives

This policy aims to:

  • explain how NPWS will assist park neighbours with boundary fencing
  • clarify the responsibilities of NPWS and adjoining landholders for constructing, maintaining, repairing and replacing boundary fencing
  • outline a streamlined process for repairing or replacing boundary fencing that has been damaged or destroyed by fires, floods or other natural events.

Definitions

Adjoining landowner means an owner or manager of land that has a common cadastral (surveyed or mapped) boundary with a reserve or land managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Conservation risk assessment (CRA) means a rapid assessment of a minor activity or small-scale work in a park that qualifies as exempt development under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007. The activity or small-scale work must have minimal environmental impact (under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) to qualify as exempt development.

A CRA must address impacts on:

  • threatened species, threatened populations, endangered ecological communities or critical habitat
  • Aboriginal objects or places
  • heritage items or relics under the Heritage Act 1977
  • matters of national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (for example, migratory species, nationally threatened species and World Heritage values)
  • land subject to State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) with respect to coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests.

A CRA is not a statutory assessment or approval. If a proposal will impact on matters such as historic heritage, Aboriginal objects or places, or threatened species then separate statutory approvals may be required.

Park means a reserve gazetted under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, State conservation area, karst conservation reserve, or regional park, or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the Act.

Accountabilities

This section outlines NPWS staff with significant responsibilities for ensuring implementation of the policy.

Paragraph Position
13. Entering into a fencing agreement Area Manager
20. Approving requests to repair or replace fencing damaged or destroyed by natural events Area Manager