Lithgow Council has hit pause on a matter which has concerned some rural landowners across the city. The issue was caused by a recent Council mail-out to the landowners asking them to confirm that their land was being used as farmland.

The Council’s General Manager, Craig Butler explained, “This council is immensely supportive of farming. For this reason, when the dominant use of land is for farming, the rates paid to the council are lowered. It is important, however, that only farming businesses receive this benefit because other ratepayers experience higher rates as a result of this policy approach.”

“The reality is that the rural parts of this city are seeing growth in non-farming uses of the land. This includes short-stay tourism accommodation and lifestyle housing. When those are the dominant use of the land, it is not appropriate to reduce the rates.”

“Periodically, the council will identify properties that do not appear to be used for farming. In this situation, the council will ask the landowner to establish what the dominant use of the land is.”

“There are approximately 1200 properties across the city that have been rated as farmland. The council has written to the owners of about 700 properties which did not appear to be used for farming. Already, many of those landowners have acknowledged that, today, their land is not used for farming. But it has also become apparent that some people will require more time to gather the required information to show that they operate a farm. The process will be slowed to allow these people to properly assemble their information. The council will closely review all submissions and then consult further with any person who is affected by a proposed change.”

There will be no rating category change for properties currently categorised as farmland for the 2024/25 year.

It is proposed to recommence the review of properties currently rated as farmland later in the year.

It is likely that farmers impacted by natural disasters, such as Wolgan Valley landowners, will be excluded from the review of farmland rating.