Events, functions and venues policy

National parks can provide unique locations and opportunities for community events and private functions.

Crebra Pavillion venue for hire with views across the park, Rouse Hill Regional ParkEvents and functions can bring more people to parks, helping to raise awareness and appreciation of parks and their conservation values.

Your event or function should be appropriate to the natural and cultural settings in which they are held, and meet high environmental and sustainability standards.

Policy

  1. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will allow events and functions in parks if they meet the criteria in this policy. Events, functions and venues are not consistent with the management principles for wilderness areas and will not be permitted in these areas.
  2. Permanent or long-term venues may be provided, either by NPWS or a private party, in order to meet the objectives of this policy.
  3. Events, functions and venues must:
    • be consistent with the management principles for the category of reserve, for example, events, functions and venues in nature reserves may only be permitted for the purposes specified in the management principles for nature reserves, which includes the promotion of public appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of the nature reserve’s natural and cultural values and the provision of appropriate research and monitoring
    • be permissible and consistent with the park plan of management (PoM) and relevant park policies
    • minimise environmental impacts at the site and on the surrounding area
    • be culturally appropriate
    • meet high sustainability standards
    • be appropriately low-key and suitable for the location
    • minimise impacts on other park users
    • create opportunities to raise visitor awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of the values of parks and their conservation.
  4. Events and functions may provide exclusive access to parts of a park for their duration. The impacts on other users of the park will be considered prior to granting approval where exclusive access is required. Venues will generally be available to the public when events and functions are not occurring.
  5. Events, functions and venues in parks should be strategically planned and consistent with the relevant branch visitation management plan.
  6. Each proposal will be considered on its merits. Factors to be taken into account include (but are not limited to):
    • financial viability
    • financial return to government
    • benefits to the park and the community.
  7. NPWS will apply the principle of competitive neutrality to events held in parks so that NPWS events do not enjoy a competitive advantage simply as a result of public-sector ownership. This can be achieved by ensuring that event ticket pricing reflects the same input costs as would apply to events held outside parks.
  1. An event or function may be approved by either:
    • a lease or licence under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act), following application of the Act's assessment criteria
    • a consent under clause 25 of the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2019 (NPW Regulation).

    Where approval may be granted by a lease or licence, a report that addresses the assessment criteria must be prepared for the Minister.

    Under the NPW Act, a lease or licence of land to provide a venue to host conferences and functions may only be granted where the venue is ancillary to accommodation facilities or to general facilities and amenities for visitors and tourists. However, this still allows for venues to be created through the adaptive reuse of existing buildings and structures, or in a modified natural area identified in a park plan of management.

  2. Although not required by the NPW Act, NPWS:
    • will apply the Sustainability Guidelines to any events, functions and venues provided and managed by NPWS
    • may require the Sustainability Guidelines to be applied to a proposal that requires a consent, if that would help to achieve the aims of this policy.
  3. If a lessee proposes an event or function on their leased lands that is not covered by the terms of the lease, they must seek approval (including an appropriate licence or consent) from NPWS in the same manner as any other proponent.
  4. If a third party wishes to hold an event or function on leased land they must seek the permission of the lessee in addition to the approvals required from the park authority. Permission so granted must not be inconsistent with any conditions of the approval granted by NPWS.
  1. An appropriate level of environmental assessment will be required. Minor proposals will only require the completion of a simple conservation risk assessment.
  2. Although an event or function is not generally in itself considered to be an 'activity' (for the purpose of determining impacts under environmental protection legislation), associated activities or actions may be, and so a review of environmental factors or environmental impact statement may be required. Seek advice from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's Legal Services if the status of activities is unclear.
  1. NPWS will charge fees to recover costs associated with the event.
  2. Fees that apply to the general public (for example, park-entry fees or camping fees) will continue to apply.
  3. NPWS may also impose:
    • fees based on the number of event participants
    • a security/environmental bond.
  4. NPWS may waive or reduce fees for events or functions that:
    • are non-commercial and being held by a not-for-profit or charitable organisation or as a community service, and do not require resources from NPWS
    • benefit parks and their conservation, for instance, by:
      • providing infrastructure or contributing funds for restoration works
      • increasing awareness of the natural and cultural values of parks and their conservation.
  1. Use of land or a facility (that is, a venue) should be approved under a lease if the proponent:
    • requires on-going exclusive rights to occupy and use the land or the facility for 5 years or longer (even if that use is not 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    • will use the land for a cumulative period that exceeds 3 months in any 12-month period.
  2. A consent should be used where:
    • exclusive rights to occupy and use land are not required (that is, where the general public is not excluded from the part of the park where the activity will occur)
    • the event or function is of a one-off nature or short duration
    • the event or function is small-scale and simple, no permanent physical works or permanent structures are required, and any temporary works are limited and completely reversible (for example, marquees, portable toilets or portable offices).
  3. A licence should be used in all other circumstances.

Consultation with Aboriginal people

  1. If an application is made for an event or function on land that is subject to a lease under Part 4A of the NPW Act, the Minister may only grant a lease or licence with the concurrence of the relevant board of management for the land concerned. The lease or licence must be consistent with the terms of the Part 4A lease.

    On land subject to an Indigenous land use agreement:

    • any consultation and consent requirements in these agreements must be followed, and any licence application determined, according to the requirements set out in the agreement on a case by case basis
    • if there has been a determination of native title, there may be additional requirements under the Native Title (New South Wales) Act 1994.

    On land subject to a co-management memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Aboriginal people, NPWS will take into account any views and interests of Aboriginal owners or the local Aboriginal community in accordance with the consultative requirements specified in the agreement which applies to the particular park.

    On land subject to Native Title claims, NPWS will take into account any views and interests of Native Title claimants.

Occupation period

  1. The conditions of approval should specify the period an event or function may occupy the site, including the time to:
    • set up the event or function, including undertaking any works required ('bump in' date(s) during the 'bump in' hours)
    • hold the event or function
    • pack up, clean up and restore the site (if necessary) after the event or function ('bump out' date(s) during the 'bump out' hours).

Acknowledgements

  1. NPWS may require brochures and/or advertising for events or functions to acknowledge:
    • that the event or function is in a park
    • NPWS's role in the event or function
    • the conditions of operation
    • that the event is being held on Aboriginal Country.

Policy adopted October 2010
Policy last updated September 2020

Scope and application

This policy applies to all lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act), except:

  • the alpine resorts areas in Kosciuszko National Park.
  • lands reserved under Part 4A of the NPW 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 does not apply to the granting of licences for commercial tours issued under section 152 of the NPW Act or to commercial filming and photography.

Definitions

Assessment criteria means the criteria adopted under section 151B(3) of the NPW Act. The Minister is to have regard to these assessment criteria prior to granting a lease or licence for events, functions and venues.

Event means an organised group activity open to the general public. Examples of events are:

  • concerts, public meetings or demonstrations
  • conferences
  • educational activities
  • organised sporting and endurance activities.

Function means an organised group activity that is not open to the general public (for example, a wedding).

Non-commercial means an event or function that makes no profit or generates no additional reward (financial or otherwise) over the recovery of direct costs.

PoM means a plan of management under the NPW Act.

Venue means a location or facility identified for holding events or functions. Venues are usually buildings but can also be outdoor areas. They may be temporary or permanent.