Four Valleys Sustainable Agriculture Incentives 2023-25

Hunter Local Land Services is currently seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from landholders for assistance to improve land management practices that reduces the risks to drinking water within the Paterson, Allyn, Williams and Chichesters Rivers.

Funding is available for eligible rural landholders to implement improved on-ground riparian and grazing management practices. To receive support and determine if your project is eligible for incentive funding we invite landholders to submit Expressions of Interest.

Expressions of Interest (EOI) will be assessed as they are received against a set of criteria including priority locations, alignment to priority actions for the program, and outcomes to improve drinking water quality.

Once assessed, individual EOIs that meet the above criteria may be contacted by our staff to arrange property visits to learn more about the proposal, and/ or directly invite EOI submissions to apply for funding via an application process. If your EOI does not meet our objectives at this time, we will also contact you to determine how we can provide other types of assistance to best suit your needs.


Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) is delivering investment funding sourced from Hunter Water Corporation to landholder in the drinking water catchments of the Paterson, Allyn, Williams, and Chichester Rivers.

Funding is provided to assist landholders to implement onground works and management practice change to reduce the risk to drinking water quality in these drinking water catchments.

The grant opportunity is open to landholders in identified priority target catchments. Funds are available for projects on a competitive basis through multiple grant funding rounds.

Funding is aimed at assisting with projects that revegetate riverbanks, fence riverbanks, control stock access to riparian areas, implement strategic grazing practices that increases ground covers and reduces soil erosion, provide offstream stock water and control riparian weeds.

All projects must have initial works completed within 1 year from the commencement of the funding agreement, with maintenance undertaken for a further 5 years from completion of initial works.

Applicants are encouraged to read all program details before applying.

Program Purpose and Objectives

The program seeks to support rural landholders along priority rivers in the Hunter LLS Region to adopt farming and land management practices and systems which are a win:win for production and the environment.

Our main priorities include activities which will reduce the risk to drinking water quality in the catchments of the Paterson, Allyn, Williams, and Chichester Rivers:

  • Improving riverbank vegetation
  • Implementing Strategic Grazing practices and systems which reduce the risk to drinking water quality by increasing groundcover, biomass production, soil health and rainfall infiltration through management of grazing duration and density
  • On-farm soil protection practices that improve environmental outcome through prevention of erosion, slowing of water movement and/or increasing rainfall infiltration.

Key Dates

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Applications open

24 November 2023

27 March 2024

2 September 2024

Applications close

10 December 2023

26 April 2024

7 November 2024

Assessment process

11 – 15 December 2023

29 - 30 April 2024

14 – 18 November 2024

Application outcome date

18 December 2023

10 May 2024

22 November 2024

Funding Deeds executed with Successful Applicants:

December 2023

May 2024

December 2024

Contracting Processes

Contracting processes will commence once an applicant has been informed of a successful grant application.

Project completion:

Projects must commence within 1 month of the commencement date of a funding agreement and have initial works completed by May 2025, with maintenance undertaken for a further 5 years from completion of initial works.

In extenuating circumstances, applications submitted after the deadline may be accepted at the discretion of Hunter LLS.

Program Funding

Total available funding for this grant program is $166,000, sourced from, Hunter Water Corporation.

For individual projects, minimum funding is $5,000 excluding GST, with maximum funding being $25,000 excluding GST.


Applicants are required to contribute a minimum of 3:1 (Landholder contribution $3: Hunter LLS funding $1) co-investment through cash and/or in-kind (e.g., labour, equipment, and materials) from the landholder.

Unspent Funds

If the situation arises where a grant recipient’s project is completed and there are unspent funds remaining from the grant allocation, LLS may require the grant recipient to return the unspent funds. If the grant recipient requests to use the funds to extend the scope of the project, LLS may assess that request if it aligns to the objectives of the grant program. LLS may require the grant recipient to provide supporting information such as revised economic or social impact data.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligible funding applications must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant has submitted an Expression of Interest and is invited to complete an application form by Hunter LLS.
  • The project is located within the Hunter LLS region in an identified priority area for this program.
  • The applicant contributes a minimum of 3:1 Landholder contribution $3: Hunter LLS funding $1) co-investment through cash and/or in-kind (e.g., labour, equipment, and materials) from the landholder.
  • The applicant has completed all works, monitoring, and reporting for any previously funded project/s prior to submitting a new application.
  • The applicant is able to complete proposed works within a 12 months (or otherwise agreed) timeframe.
  • The application must meet Hunter LLS minimum standards for on-ground works, as detailed in these guidelines.
  • The applicant/business not having previously received LLS or CMA funding for the proposed works, on 2 or more previous occasions for similar works elsewhere on the same property.
  • The proposed activities are consistent with local, NSW and Australian government regulations and legislation.
  • The applicant has paid all current Hunter LLS financial obligations e.g., rates, Long Term Grazing Permits.
  • Must not be double funded by other sources (such as other grants) for the same work, or be obligated to undertake the work to meet a legislative compliance requirement or through on title or other certificates that are the responsibility of the landholder (such as Biodiversity Conservation Trust or Land Management Code certificates).

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible for grant funding, an applicant must meet each of the following requirements:

  • be a landowner or a landholder with signed landowner permission to undertake the project on the land or if the landowner or responsible entity is a company or organisation, an application signed by an authorised representative of the entity.
  • hold or commit to obtaining public liability insurance of not less than $10 million per occurrence or hold equivalent or better self-insurance to the satisfaction of the LLS, prior to executing a Funding Deed or Agreement with LLS.

Ineligible Applicants

  • Local Land Services Board members
  • Local Land Services staff
  • Hunter Water staff

Eligible Projects

Projects delivering on ground works and practices that reduce the risk to drinking water quality in the catchments of the Paterson, Allyn, Williams, and Chichester Rivers.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

Aboriginal Community consultation will be undertaken during the planning stage of projects and Cultural due diligence assessment may be required and involve a site visit if works are located in a Culturally sensitive landscape as per the Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects in New South Wales (DPE).

LLS has Aboriginal Community Engagement staff that can assist you in contacting the appropriate person(s) or organisation.

Ineligible Projects and Project Costs

Types of activities that will not be funded under this program include:

  • Solely production-oriented activities.
  • Major farm water supplies including irrigation.
  • Solely weed control to meet a landholder’s general biosecurity duty.
  • Purchase of machinery and computer hardware and software, where there is no demonstrated land use change.
  • Activities more appropriately funded by other bodies.
  • Activities that the land managers can reasonably be expected to undertake to ensure sustainable management of areas under their control.
  • Work that is undertaken before the project agreement for the proposal is signed or after the project agreement ends.
  • Construction or modification of instream works.
  • Projects intended to beautify or improve amenity.
  • Replacement or maintenance of property boundary fencing that is the landholder’s normal responsibility.
  • Capital works, for example construction of buildings or viewing platforms to improve amenity.
  • Expert advice that could alternatively be provided by the LLS or other government agency.
  • Research.
  • Any works for mostly private benefit.
  • Activities that may be required due to legal responsibilities, compliance with development consents and/or reasonable duty of care.
  • Activities that do not directly deliver on the specified program outcomes.
  • Maintenance of previously LLS/CMA funded works
  • Works that are existing obligations to the landholders, such as on title conservation agreements or Land Management code agreements.
  • Works that are already funded by other sources.

Project Locations

Eligible projects must be located in a priority area for the Four Valleys Program identified on the Land Management Incentives Priority map at ]

Eligible Project Costs

Activities which achieve the project objectives.

Applicants must include a monitoring activity and may include maintenance costs as funds sought from LLS up to a maximum of 5% of the total.

For the in-kind contributions landholders can cost an in-kind labour component at $40/hour GST exclusive.

Assessment Criteria

Funding Amount

This is used as a basis for determining value for money through the Benefit Cost Tool

Project Type

Riparian, Soils (or combinations)

Score: Highest- Riparian, Riparian and Soils, Soils, Wetlands, Biodiversity- Lowest

Area Treated (hectares)

Area of project, used to determine value for money through the Benefit Cost Tool

Total hectare of project proposed

Application match LLS advice

Assessed to ensure technical feasibility of project

Score: Y/N

Current condition- without project/no change in management

Provides a condition baseline for the project as a benchmark against undisturbed/original condition

Score: percentage

Future condition-without project* estimated condition in 20 years’ time

Provides a condition comparison for the site without any change in management, and anticipated long term environmental condition

Score: percentage

Future condition-with project* estimated condition in 20 years’ time

Provides a condition comparison for the project with the funded change in management, and anticipated long term environmental condition

*Both Future Condition  and Future Condition Without project is assessed against baseline to determine the scale of benefits for the project.

Score: percentage

Downstream benefits

Catchment benefits for project activities:

Score: Major, Significant, Some, Minor, Negligible

Connectivity benefits

Landscape linkage or connectivity benefits for project activities:

Score: Major, Significant, Some, Minor, Negligible

Soils/Sustainable Agriculture benefits

Where soils protection adjoins wetland, riparian or biodiversity benefits

Score: Major, Significant, Some, Minor, Negligible

Technical  or other risk of failure for project

Complexity, risk, landholder capacity or other factors

Score: Very High, High, Moderate, Low, Very Low

The criteria above are entered into a Benefit Cost Tool (BCT) sheet, that produces a standard Benefit Cost Score (BCS), and if the score is aligned to standard cut-off the project will be reviewed/recommended for funding or recommended with minor variations. Benefit Cost Tool (BCT) sheet see below.

If the application is below BCS cut off, then the application is not approved. Feedback is provided to unsuccessful applicants.

Please speak to your Project Officer if you have any questions on the assessment criteria.

Application Process

This is a two-stage application process.
Stage One: Submit an Expression of Interest

To receive initial advice from our regional extension and advisory staff and determine if your project is eligible for incentive funding, we invite landholders to submit an Expression of Interest. Our EOI process supports eligible applicants to develop their funding application.

Expressions of Interest (EOI) will be assessed as they are received against a set of criteria (not weighted) including priority locations, alignment to priority actions for the program, and outcomes to improve drinking water quality.

Expressions of Interest (EOI) will be reviewed as they are received and allocated to the most appropriate Local Land Services extension and advisory staff.

Your Hunter LLS staff allocated to your EOI will either:

  1. Provide initial information and advice, upcoming training opportunities, or refer you to other suitable contacts relevant to your request,
  2. Provide information and arrange a visit to your property and provide specific property-based advice in the form of a “Property Site Visit Report”,
  3. After a property visit, the staff may recommend (and provide support such as property maps, planning and advice) to develop a project and assist to submit an incentive application for consideration, if your priorities and location aligns with any of our priority Incentives Programs
Download, print and complete the hard copy Expression of Interest Form (this will download a Word document).
  • Scan and email to: or
  • Post to Private Bag 2010, Paterson NSW 2421, or apply in person over the counter at your local office.

If you need help submitting your EOI, contact us by calling 1300 795 299.

You must submit an EOI and receive confirmation from LLS advisory services to be considered for any funding opportunities under these programs.

Call us for any assistance or land management advice on 1300 795 299, whether it’s related to funding opportunities or general enquiries.

Stage 2: Lodging applications

Based on your Expression of Interest and subsequent property assessment, if your proposed changes to land management practices align with our Sustainable Agriculture Four Valleys Incentives Program and meet the eligibility requirements we will invite you to submit an application for funding.

Applications for Hunter LLS Sustainable Agriculture Incentives will need to complete a Hunter LLS Sustainable Agriculture Incentives application from available from LLS staff.

LLS staff are available to assist potential applicants with developing applications, including providing advice on best practice management, design, costing, and developing a detailed project works map. LLS project staff will also provide potential applicants with a site report and recommendations following on-site discussion.

Applications should be consistent with advice provided in the site report. All applications must be accompanied by a project works map provided by LLS staff on a standard template, showing the location and type of proposed management activities on your property.

Applications can be lodged in two ways:

1.   Submit the original signed application to Hunter LLS by the closing date. Address to:

Sustainable Agriculture Incentives Program
Hunter Local Land Services
Private Bag 2010
Paterson, NSW 2421

2.  Submit your application electronically by the closing date to:

Electronically lodged applications must come from the applicant’s e-mail account and must include a copy of the LLS produced map.  The subject line should include the following information:

HR0####-“Applicant surname” (the HR0#### project identifier will be provided by your LLS staff contact)

A signed, scanned page can be submitted separately to the word application form.

As map files can be large in file size, please email your application and map separately to ensure the emails are transmitted by the due date but be sure to include the HR0#### on all correspondence.

Please declare all potential, perceived or actual Conflicts of Interest during the application process on the signing page. If you are successful with your grant, you will have to submit a Conflict-of-Interest Declaration form and have this noted or approved as not a conflict, before being able to be funded.

Applications that are sent directly to LLS staff will not be accepted.

Incomplete applications will not be assessed.

Late applications (i.e., received following closing date) will be assessed in the next assessment round.

Conflicts of Interest

LLS has a Conflict-of-Interest Policy.  Applicants should declare any perceived, actual, or potential conflict of interest on their application.  This could include being a current or past LLS staff member or being related to a staff member. A Conflict of Interest will not automatically exclude applications for funding, but it does mean the LLS will need to follow certain procedures to ensure the conflict of interest is dealt with appropriately prior to any funding being allocated.

Assessment Process

Assessment is made by a Team Leader, staff independent of the application process and independent Business Team representatives using a Benefit Cost Tool that identifies environmental benefits, value for money and risk. The panel may also consist of external panellists, such as representatives from program specific investment organisations.

Applications are assessed against the priorities and alignment of the Sustainable Agriculture Four Valleys Incentives programs, the advice or project development with LLS staff and feasibility/level of complexity, combined with the Benefit Cost Tool.

Applications are assessed on their own merit, and alignment to program priorities, and are comparatively assessed based on investment source.

Projects are either recommended for funding through the panel, recommended with variations (project or financial), or not recommended.

Applicants may be contacted during this step to clarify information provided in their application. LLS will notify applicants if additional information and supporting material is required and the timeframes in which it is required.

The assessment panel may recommend a lesser amount of funding for an application or defer a recommendation pending further information.

Advice may also be sought from other NSW Government agencies or other sources (such as probity advisors).

Decision making

The decision maker for the Grant is the Hunter LLS Agricultural Production and Protection Manager.

The decision maker will review the availability of grant funds and the Assessment Panel’s recommendation before deciding which grant applications to approve. The decision maker may take other factors into account that may make an application ineligible for funding, including issues that could cause reputational or other risks to the NSW Government.

The decision maker’s decision is final in all matters, including:

  • the approval of the grant
  • the grant funding amount to be awarded, and
  • the terms and conditions of the grant.

There is no appeal mechanism for decisions to approve or not approve a grant.

Probity advice

Where required, independent probity advisors will provide guidance to the LLS on any significant issues concerning integrity, fairness and accountability that may arise throughout the application, assessment, and decision-making process. This will ensure decisions are made with integrity, fairness, and accountability, while delivering value for money for NSW.

Can Ineligible Projects be referred to a more appropriate funding program?

Yes. Projects that are more suitable for other NSW Government programs may be referred to those programs. Applications that are referred will be subject to the full Assessment Criteria of the other NSW Government program to which they are referred. Applicants may need to update their application to meet the criteria of the referred program.

Successful Applications


Successful applicants will be notified in writing by letter and/or email.

Funding Contracts

Successful Applicants will be required to enter into a funding deed or agreement (for more complex/higher value projects) or a small grant funding letter (for simple/lower value projects) with the NSW Government covering the duration of the project activities (12-month period) and 5 years of maintenance thereafter.

A copy of the standard contract with all the terms and conditions is available to all applicants to review prior to submitting the application. Please contact Hunter LLS to access a copy of the standard agreement template.

The contract will need to be signed by the applicant and the landowner (if different).  The landholder on the application must be the same landholder that will sign the contract, and this must also be the same landholder who will receive the grant funds.

Successful Applicants will be required to provide all supporting documentation and approvals before LLS can enter into a funding deed or agreement. This includes $10 million Public Liability Insurance.

The NSW Government makes no binding funding commitment to an Applicant unless and until both parties sign a funding deed.

Successful Applicants must not make financial commitments for funded activities until funding deeds have been executed by both parties.

Successful Applicants may be required to submit progress reports to LLS as outlined in the funding deed or agreement.

Public Liability Insurance

All funded projects must be prepared to maintain current Public Liability Insurance (at least $10 million) for the duration of the agreement. A copy of your certificate of currency should be provided with your project application.  If you are unable to provide the $10m of coverage you may apply to the LLS for a reduced amount, but this would be subject to an assessment of the Public Liability risk of the project.

Grant Payments

A payment schedule will be determined as part of funding agreement negotiations.

Funds will generally be paid 50% on completion of the first milestone, which will include baseline photo-point monitoring and a Work Health and Safety Plan.  The remainder of funds will be paid on completion of agreed milestones with 10% being withheld until submission and approval of the final report.

All Incentive payments from LLS will be made during the 2023/24 financial years provided milestones are achieved.

Milestone payments may require a site inspection by the LLS to verify completion of the milestone. A final report on the project outcomes will be required to receive the final payment.

Payment will be made on receipt of a signed ATO compliant tax invoice on completion of agreed milestones.

Applicants should discuss the implications of receiving funding from the LLS with a financial adviser prior to applying.

Workplace Health and Safety

The first milestone payment will be linked to completion of a Work Health and Safety Management Plan.  The WHS Management Plan should document a Work Health and Safety risk assessment in accordance with Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requirements.  LLS staff can assist in preparing a risk assessment and Work Health and Safety Management Plan for projects.

Important Terms and Conditions

LLS may receive more applications than it can support. Applicants are not guaranteed funding even if the application is of high merit. Further, even if an application is successful, it may not be funded to the full amount requested.

All projects must demonstrate they can commence within 1 month of the commencement of the funding deed or agreement and be completed within 1 year.

Applicants must hold all relevant insurances, including a minimum $10 million Public Liability Insurance.

Requests for variations or changes to the project will only be considered in limited circumstances.

All awarded grants will be GST exclusive. If the Applicant is registered for GST, this will be applied on top of the agreed grant value when payment is made. Grants are assessable income for taxation purposes, unless exempted by taxation law. It is recommended Applicants seek independent professional advice about taxation obligations or seek assistance from the Australian Taxation Office. The NSW Government does not provide advice on individual taxation circumstances.

Successful Applicants will be required to pay back unspent funds or those funds which have not been spent in accordance with the funding deed.

Successful Applicants will be required to participate in a program evaluation to determine the extent to which their projects have contributed to the objective of the Fund. The evaluation will require Applicants to provide evidence of how projects have resulted in a measurable change to the lives of local residents that is consistent with the objective of the Fund.

Any information submitted by an Applicant may be used for promotional material prepared by the NSW Government.

The NSW Government may choose to publicly announce funding for individual applications. It may also use information provided in the grant to develop case studies.

All recipients of NSW Government funding should acknowledge this financial support as per the Funding Acknowledgement Guidelines for Recipients of NSW Government Grants.

LLS reserves the right to undertake an audit of grant funding within a period 7 years from the signing of the funding deed.

Applicants must advise LLS of any changes to their legal status or of changes or delays to their project.


All successful applications will be published online to the NSW Grants and Funding page within 45 days of approval and on this page. This includes:

  • Your name/Business name (e.g., B.Smith/ Smiths Farm)
  • Location (town)
  • Amount Funded

Additional information on the program is also published, such as number of applications to the round and number of successful applicants, and related program details.

Disclosure of Information

LLS has requirements with the Australian and NSW Government to provide spatial information and details of funded works. LLS will be required to report spatially, and on activities to these funding bodies, which may in turn be published on public websites. LLS aims to provide information to the public spatially on achievements associated with public funds. Your project may be represented spatially (e.g., point or polygon on catchment scale map in publicly released documents) but no detailed information will be released.

Monitoring and Reporting

All on-ground projects funded by the LLS will be required to undertake photo point monitoring of activities.  LLS has a guide for photo monitoring on the website and successful applicants will be provided with a copy. LLS staff are able to assist with establishment of standard photo monitoring points.

The LLS may also require monitoring of groundcover and landscape condition changes using the step point monitoring method or native vegetation condition monitoring depending on the type of activities proposed. This will require consent by the landowner (as a condition of the Contract) to access the project site annually to monitor for the desired outcomes and provide additional support to the landowner to ensure the project meets desired outcomes.

LLS will develop a set of relevant measures for monitoring and reporting the economic, social, and environmental outcomes with successful applicants. This is important to demonstrate these outcomes to our funding partners.

All projects funded by the LLS may be included in more detailed vegetation and/or soil condition monitoring undertaken by LLS.

A final report on the project outcomes will be required to receive a final payment. All agreements will require further brief annual monitoring reports for the agreement duration on the outcomes achieved and the management actions and monitoring undertaken. Progress reports or inspections may also be required.

LLS reserves the right to inspect the project area over the duration of the agreement, to determine the degree to which intended outcomes are being achieved.

Further details of monitoring requirements and templates for reports are available from a LLS project officer and will be made available to successful applicants.


All funded activities will require maintenance to ensure the outcomes are maintained. All activities must be regularly maintained for at least 5 years from the date of completion of project works (i.e., from May 2024)

Acquittal of Contracts

The final milestone payment will occur following the completion of project activities and acceptance by LLS of the Final Project Acquittal Report which confirms the expenditure of the grant funds and satisfactory completion of the project outcomes.

Annual reports on maintenance and monitoring will be required for the remaining duration of the agreement. LLS may inspect the project during the maintenance and monitoring period. Evidence of completion, including reports submitted to LLS and inspection reports by LLS, will be recorded in the LLS corporate filing system. These records will be used to inform LLS internal program progress and final reporting using LLS financial and project management systems.

Waivers (evidence and process)

All requests for an extension of time to complete project activities must be submitted in writing to LLS outlining the revised timing requested and supporting reasons. Requests for an extension of time will be considered by LLS and if deemed appropriate, will be approved by LLS through a signed contract variation.

All requests for changes to project payments and landholder contributions must be submitted in writing to LLS outlining the proposed changes and supporting reasons. LLS will not approve requests for increased total grant funding. Other requests will be considered by LLS and if deemed appropriate will be approved by LLS through a signed contract variation.

All requests for changes to project activities other than timing or payments must be submitted in writing to LLS outlining the proposed revised delivery of project activities and supporting reasons. Requests will be considered by LLS and if deemed appropriate will be approved by LLS through a contract variation.

Debt Recovery (process)

If the project is not completed, LLS will provide written notice to recover LLS grant funds in accordance with the agreement terms and conditions. If LLS has paid any part of the grant funds in advance, you must repay to LLS a pro-rata amount of grant funds for any incomplete project activities, within 30 days of a written request from LLS, in accordance with the project agreement terms and conditions.

Evaluation of Grant Program

Progress, final and annual reports submitted to LLS and inspect reports by LLS will be used to inform annual evaluation of this grant program under an LLS approved annual evaluation plan that considers and documents delivery on outputs, outcomes, key learnings, and continuous improvements.

Unsuccessful Applications

Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing of the outcome of their application and will be offered feedback.

Additional Information

Getting Support

Complete an Expression of Interest form (EOI)


Call: 1300 795 299

or visit:

Paterson Office: 816 Tocal Road, Paterson NSW 2421

Scone Office: 2 Flemington Drive, Scone NSW 2337

Taree Office: 26 Muldoon Street, Taree NSW 2430

Please contact your local Hunter LLS Project Officer for assistance in preparing your application.

Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

Applicants should be aware that information submitted in applications and all related correspondence, attachments and other documents may be made publicly available under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW). Information that is deemed to be commercially sensitive will be withheld.

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) makes government information accessible to the public by:

  • requiring government agencies to make certain sorts of information freely available
  • encouraging government agencies to release as much other information as possible
  • giving the public an enforceable right to make access applications for government information
  • restricting access to information only when there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.


Any concerns about the Fund or individual applications should be submitted in writing to . If you do not agree with the way LLS handled the issue, you may wish to contact the NSW Ombudsman via

Ethical Conduct

Applicants must not participate in any anti-competitive conduct.

It is a condition of the grant program application process that no gifts, benefits, or hospitality are to be made to any Department/Agency employee at any time. Any inducement in contravention of this condition may result in an applicant’s proposal not being considered.

Conflicts of Interest

There may be a requirement for a conflict-of-interest declaration to be submitted with all proposals or in the application form.

Where a conflict-of-interest detrimental to the assessment process is identified, mitigation measures must be put in place, or an individual may be asked not to participate in the application, assessment, or delivery stage of the process.


Funding decisions and assessment outcomes must be kept confidential until announced by the NSW Government. Successful applicants will be required to provide a confidentiality undertaking. This means they must keep the outcome of the application process confidential until the NSW Government makes a public announcement.

Upon entering into a funding deed or agreement, details about the funding deed or agreement may be made publicly available (subject to information which the Department/Agency deems to be commercial in confidence)

The applicant agrees not to disclose any confidential information pertaining to the grant program application or funding deed without prior written consent of the Department.

Department rights

LLS may, in its absolute discretion, and without limiting any other right which LLS may have, do all or any of the following at any time without giving notice or reasons:

  • require additional information from an applicant
  • change any of the requirements of these Guidelines
  • alter or vary any process, procedure or timing related to the grant opportunity, including any process, procedure or timing regarding the consideration or the evaluation of any proposal or all applications
  • suspend or terminate the grant opportunity
  • negotiate with one or more preferred applicants without prior notice to any other applicant
  • terminate any negotiations being conducted with any applicant
  • readvertise for new applicants
  • consider any non-conforming application
  • terminate further participation in the grant opportunity by any applicant for any reason (including if the department reasonably considers an application to contain any false or misleading claims or statements)
  • not proceed with any funding deed, or
  • proceed with a funding deed in ways not contemplated in these Guidelines.

Intellectual property

All intellectual property rights in these Guidelines remain the property of LLS. Applicants are permitted to use these Guidelines for the purpose of preparing an application only. Applicants must not use these Guidelines, or any information contained in these Guidelines for any other purpose.

Applications submitted in response to these Guidelines remain the property of the applicant, unless otherwise agreed between the applicant and the department. The applicant agrees that the department may make copies and reproduce applications for any purpose related to the grant opportunity. In addition, the department will retain (electronic and hard) copies of all applications.

No offer

These Guidelines are not an offer, recommendation, or invitation by LLS in respect of any contract or commitment and, subject to a funding deed being fully executed by the parties to it, nothing in these Guidelines will form the basis of any contract or commitment.


The department may, in its absolute discretion, issue an addendum to these Guidelines.  In each case, an addendum becomes part of these Guidelines.


LLS does not guarantee or warrant and accepts no legal liability whatsoever arising from or connected to, the accuracy, reliability, currency, or completeness of any material contained in this publication. Information in this publication is provided as general information only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from a qualified professional.

LLS recommends that users exercise care and use their own skill and judgment in using information from this publication and that users carefully evaluate the accuracy, currency, completeness, and relevance of such information. Users should take steps to independently verify the information in this publication and, where appropriate, seek professional advice.

Minimum Standards for Onground Works


All fencing (electric or standard) must be managed in a stock-proof condition for the term of the agreement.  In addition, the following standards apply:

  • Stock proof fencing to protect riverbanks, riparian zones, and wetlands. Fencing needs to be permanent and located at least 5-15 metres back from the top of the bank (based on practical consideration on a site-by-site basis). Identification of top of bank and distance of fence from top of bank needs to be based on advice from your LLS technical staff member, considering erosion, flooding and other factors. Fencing needs to allow for a buffer zone to minimise nutrient run-off and erosion.
  • Stock proof fencing to protect or regenerate remnant native vegetation.  Fence to be installed so that it provides long term protection and/or restriction of stock access within the project and maintenance periods, permanent fencing is preferred. Fencing around single existing remnant trees will generally not be funded (unless accompanied by areas of additional revegetation (minimum 1 hectare).

Revegetation: *  

All revegetation activities funded by the LLS must achieve and maintain at least an 80% survival and establishment rate and stock exclusion fencing must be installed where stock could potentially access the site. Local provenance seed/planting stock must be used on revegetation sites. The following standards apply to specific revegetation activities:

  • Revegetation of gullies, rivers, creeks, and wetlands: Any plantings along riparian lands and wetlands must use local native species (and additional species as advised by Hunter LLS staff).  Riparian revegetation projects should aim, if possible, to cover both sides of the flow line/riverbank.
  • Revegetation for biodiversity, habitat, and conservation purposes: A mix of local native species suitable for the site must be used (please seek advice from your Hunter LLS contact, in general a mix of 40-50% canopy and 50-60% under-storey shrubs/forbs is standard).  Wildlife corridors must link existing areas of remnant vegetation or established revegetation sites and must be at least 25 m wide or have an average width of at least 30 m, and more than 1 hectare in size.

* Subject to availability, Hunter LLS may provide volunteer/community labour and tool hire for larger scale plantings and maintenance of project funded revegetation sites (including tool hire) in the Lower and Upper Hunter, please discuss with your Hunter LLS project officer during the development of your application.

Structural works

All structural earthworks or construction activities must be to relevant industry standards and meet all regulatory requirements.

Soil Testing

Where soil testing is required, it must be carried out by a NATA accredited laboratory.

Provision of alternative stock water supplies

Alternative stock watering, where stock are excluded from areas to protect or regenerate native riparian vegetation or manage nutrient runoff, may be achieved by installing additional stock water troughs, pipelines, tanks, and pumps for a reticulated supply. All pipelines need to be installed below ground and meet livestock requirements. All stock water works including provision of alternative stock water supply for sustainable grazing and implementing property plans must be appropriately designed and technically sound and comply with the native vegetation clearing provisions of the Local Land Services Act (2013).  It is recommended to consult with an agricultural plumbing specialist to design stock water troughs, pipelines, tanks, and pumps for a reticulated supply giving consideration to:

  • underground pipelines
  • fenced off solar infrastructure
  • flow rates appropriate for stock consumption rates
  • topography considerations for pump capacity.

Weed Control

Weed control for treating weeds or regenerating or protecting native vegetation will need to demonstrate that weed control is integral to achieving good biodiversity outcomes and/or addressing broader environmental issues. While weed control to comply with a landholder’s general biosecurity duty ( may be required on a given site by legislation, funding for the control of weeds is permitted where weed control is not the primary activity. The Hunter Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan contains information on regional weed priorities. Refer to

Weed control activities must achieve at least an 80% reduction in cover of the targeted weed species and this should be maintained for the term of the agreement.  Directions on appropriate herbicide use must be adhered to and relevant permits must be acquired if undertaking weed control near waterways or water bodies.  Permits may also be required from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to control weeds in Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs).

Fire Management

The landholder must not carry out any burning in LLS funded project areas to conserve native vegetation unless required to do so under the Rural Fires Act 1997, or in accordance with an LLS approved Fire Plan.  Burning must involve an ecologically appropriate fire management regime that promotes biodiversity outcomes.  Technical advice should be sought from LLS staff or other suitably qualified persons, and agreement reached with LLS staff prior to an area being burnt.

Principles for Grazing Management

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture can be defined in many ways, but generally it seeks to employ farming practices that are profitable, environmentally sound, and good for communities.

Sustainable agricultural practices and management are those that protect the quality and integrity of our natural resources – soil, water, vegetation, air, biodiversity, and ecosystems – so that agriculture can continue to produce high quality food and fibre into the future.

Agriculture can be called ‘regenerative’ when the focus is on enhancing ecological (natural) processes (water cycle, nutrient cycling, energy flow and community dynamics) to meet objectives such as improving soils and soil health, increasing water infiltration and retention, increasing biodiversity, and improving ecosystem health and resilience.

Agriculture includes horticulture, aquaculture, fodder production, cropping, dairying, intensive animal production (for food or fibre) and grazing, with grazing being the most common activity across the landscapes of the Hunter Valley.

Strategic Grazing      

Strategic grazing applies a range of tactics to manage predicted seasonal plant growth to meet objectives for pasture, animal production and environmental condition. It can focus on both production and environmental objectives at the same time.

A key element in strategic grazing is the adaptive decision-making of the land manager. Tactics are chosen to manage risks and opportunities in response to changing conditions, markets, or objectives.

Strategic grazing for pasture and animal production objectives are best adopted with the development of a grazing plan, that is implemented, monitored, and reviewed over time.

The key principles in strategic grazing for production objectives are:

  • Matching feed supply with animal requirements
  • Identifying the stock numbers (stocking density or head/ha) that the enterprise will sustain
  • Assessing and monitoring pasture quality, quantity, and ground cover to time the start of grazing, and to identify when to stop grazing to maintain pasture composition and ground cover
  • Managing grazing pressure to ensure that planned and efficient use of available pasture mass and energy content is achieved before regrowth is grazed
  • Planning the best balance of animal performance and pasture re-growth by grouping and allocating livestock according to their nutritional requirements.
  • Setting pasture and animal targets and managing the grazing of all pasture zones to achieve production targets, maintain pastures and prevent soil and environmental degradation.

Rotational grazing systems which enable periods of grazing and pasture rest based on pasture growth rates and objectives for herbage mass produce increased pasture growth and maintain or improve high levels of groundcover. Timing of stock movements can favour desirable pasture species or prevent seed set of undesirable pasture species and weeds.

Above ground, higher pasture biomass and groundcover reduces the risk of soil erosion and nutrient export, while below ground the deeper root systems associated with increased perennial pasture growth provide improvements in soil moisture availability, water use efficiency, organic matter, biological activity, and soil structure. Infrastructure is also necessary for tactical decisions aimed at protecting or improving on- and off-farm environmental values (such as erosion protection, fauna habitat, fauna and flora conservation, biodiversity, and water quality, reduce risk of fires and manage weeds) through management of grazing pressure in environmentally sensitive farm management zones such as riparian areas, bushland patches, corridors, and shelterbelts.

The key principles in strategic grazing for environmental objectives are:

  • Determining the condition of flora, fauna and landscape function required to meet environmental objectives
  • Assessing and continually monitoring the condition of flora, fauna, and landscape function to time the start, duration and intensity of grazing required to meet these objectives.
  • Strategic grazing within environmentally sensitive areas such as riparian zones or bushland areas requires site-specific consideration of the current condition and desired future condition of the area to determine the appropriate grazing tactics.
  • Technical advice on grazing management in environmentally sensitive areas should be sought from LLS staff or other suitably qualified people.

Infrastructure for tactical decisions

Infrastructure such as internal fencing and stock-water systems is necessary to enable tactical decisions to use various grazing methods (e.g., set stocking, rotational grazing, stock exclusion) to meet different production and environmental objectives at various times within different farm management zones.

These Guidelines are subject to change at any time at the sole discretion of LLS.

Benefit Cost Tool (BCT) sheet


This section is to be completed by LLS.

Type of project (Riverbank protection, biodiversity and revegetation, wetland/estuary, or soils (sustainable agricultural practices)

The primary category is used in the Assessment metric.

Primary category:

Secondary category (if relevant);

Tertiary category (if relevant):

Is the project in a priority Land Management Activity area?

Used by LLS assessment panel but not considered in the Assessment metric.

Yes/No and if so which one:

Area treated (ha or km x width converted to area):

Note that in the Assessment metric only the primary category ha gets directly used and it is put into the Benefit 1 - Site sheet. The secondary and tertiary categories are considered when thinking about downstream benefits and connectivity benefits.

Area needs to be consistent with the project description in Section 3 clearly identified on the site map. If this is not clear the project cannot be assessed.

Area of riverbank protection (width x length or ha):

Area of revegetation (ha):

Area of biodiversity protection (ha):

Area of wetland/estuarine protection (ha):

Area of sustainable agriculture practices (ha):

Does the application match the advice and site report given by LLS in preparation of the application?

Used by LLS assessment panel but not considered in the Assessment metric.

Answer Yes or No, as relates to the project description and works/activities. If no, then give an explanation of the difference between the advice and the project application.

To complete these sections, use the guidance worksheet (Assessment Metric) and User Manual

Significance of asset in benchmark condition

Entered into the Benefit 1 - Site sheet.

Ratings of VH, H, M, L, VL, Unknown

Comments can include reference to the site report and any other evidence

Current condition of the asset as a percentage of benchmark condition

Entered into the Benefit 1 - Site sheet.


Comments can include reference to the site report and any other evidence

Estimated condition of the asset in 20 years’ time if this project was not implemented (without the project)

Entered into the Benefit 1 - Site sheet.


Comments can include reference to the site report and any other evidence

Estimated condition of the asset in 20 years’ time if the project was implemented (with the project)

Entered into the Benefit 1 - Site sheet.


Comments can include reference to the site report and any other evidence

If the project is implemented will there be downstream benefits?

If answer yes, then Benefit 2 - Downstream Benefits sheet is used.


If yes, describe the benefits

Impact of the project on downstream assets

Entered into the Benefit 2 - Downstream sheet.

Major, Significant, Some, Minor, Negligible

State the downstream impact based on distance to the downstream asset.

Does the project have a connectivity benefit?

If answer yes, then Benefit 3 - Connectivity sheet is used.


If yes, describe the benefits

If yes to connectivity benefit, what is the size of the connectivity impact?

Entered into the Benefit 3 – Connectivity sheet.

Major, Significant, Some, Minor, Negligible

The size of the impact needs to be justified in terms of what this project is connecting to (the site map should also be used to show the connectivity impact)

For non-soils projects, is there an additional sustainable agriculture benefit? Note that for stand-alone soils projects the benefits are already captured under site benefits.

If answer yes, then Benefit 4 – Sus Ag sheet is used.

Yes/No/Not Applicable

State how the sustainable ag. practices will provide benefits to the project site (e.g., river, wetland/estuary, biodiversity).

If yes, what is the scale of benefits to other environmental assets beyond the project site?

Entered into the Benefit 4 – Sus Ag sheet.

Major, Significant, Some, Minor, Negligible

The size of the benefit needs to be justified by indicating how the project will contribute to additional site benefits (e.g., scale and proximity of works).

What is the risk off technical failure of the project?

Entered into BCR Calculator sheet.

VL, L, M, H, VH


What is the risk of the project failing due to other factors?

Entered into BCR Calculator sheet.

VL, L, M, H, VH


Total project costs

Entered into BCR Calculator sheet.

Total funding sought from LLS (Section 6)

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