A NSW Government website

High impact partnerships - frequently asked questions

About the funding opportunity

What are the High impact partnership (HIP) grants?

The NSW Government is investing $10 million in grants to partner with organisations that are active in the land sector and share our commitment to action on climate change.

Through these grants we are funding up to 50% of the cost of carbon abatement projects.

This co-investment will support emissions reduction in agriculture or carbon sequestration in soils or vegetation, with an emphasis on immediate implementation. As a condition of funding, these projects will share information and build capacity within the sector. This will help other organisations understand the potential benefits, risks and costs of getting involved in carbon projects.

What types of projects are eligible for grants?

To be eligible for funding, projects must do one or more of the following:

  • deliver abatement at scale
  • deliver abatement with additional benefits alongside carbon
  • use innovative delivery to increase benefit to land managers.

Grant-funded activities must also result in carbon projects being registered under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and implemented.

Where can I find information about funding opportunities?

You can read our High impact partnership grant guidelines to find out information about the funding opportunities and the application process. We also recommend you register for further information so we can keep you updated on future grant funding opportunities. 

What is the partnership model?

Partners will be organisations that are active in the primary industries or land sectors. They need to have vision and commitment to act on climate change and are willing to co-invest with NSW Government to deliver on their commitments. These organisations will have objectives aligned to the Primary Industries Productivity and Abatement Program, influence within the sector, and the ability to drive change in the way land is managed in NSW.

Partners are required to contribute at least 50% of the project cost, with up to 50% being contributed by PIPAP.

Which Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) methods will this grant focus on, and why?

In round 1 of the High impact partnerships funding, 4 ERF methods are eligible. These are:

All partnerships must result in carbon projects being registered under the ERF and implemented. The above 4 methods have been identified as being a suitable focus for round 1 of these grants and all applications must use at least one of these methods.

These 4 methods have potential to help achieve program outcomes across a range of land management types:

  • Reforestation by environmental or mallee plantings: this method has significant potential for large-scale carbon sequestration and biodiversity co-benefits across large areas of NSW.
  • Estimation of soil organic carbon sequestration using measurement and models: this method has potential to sequester carbon while improving soil health and agricultural productivity.
  • Beef cattle herd management: this method can reduce carbon emissions while improving cattle health and productivity, however has had limited uptake by the 15,000 commercial beef producers in NSW.
  • Tidal restoration of blue carbon ecosystems: this is a new method to remove tidal barriers with potential to store carbon at higher rates than traditional vegetation methods while delivering a range of co-benefits.

Other ERF methods may be targeted in future funding rounds for High impact partnerships and priority project grants. This includes methods currently under review or development.

How much grant funding is available?

A total of $10 million of grant funding is available under round 1 of the grant. Successful applicants will receive between $500,000 and $2 million which they will need to match or exceed.

What is the expected project duration?

All grant-funded components of the projects must be completed within 3 years. These will include:

  • preparing and registering project/s under an eligible ERF method
  • creating promotional material including demonstration sites for capacity-building
  • other outcomes outlined by the applicant at the full application phase.

The ERF project will be registered with and directly managed by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and will be delivered outside of and beyond the lifetime of our grant.

Can a project link the soil carbon and beef cattle ERF methods?

A High impact partnership (HIP) project can support a number of land managers to plan and register carbon projects with the Clean Energy Regulator (CER). Each carbon project can use any of the 4 ERF methods that are eligible for support under Round 1 of HIP. For example, a soil carbon project on one property and a beef herd management project on another property can form part of a broader HIP project. 

It may not be possible to combine multiple methods within the same carbon project. Applicants seeking to do this should discuss their proposal with the Clean Energy Regulator who administers the ERF methods. See also the Regulator’s information on planning a project.

If the Regulator's proposed Integrated Farm Method (IFM) is released in 2023, can this method qualify?

The CER's proposed IFM is not eligible for this round of Grants. 

It may be eligible under future rounds or other small project grants. 

What does deliver abatement at scale mean? The larger the better?

One of the strategic imperatives of the Primary Industries Productivity and Abatement is to build a critical mass of carbon projects across NSW. High impact partnerships grants may be used to support projects that demonstrate the potential to deliver carbon abatement at scale. 

Projects may generate a large number of carbon credits, involve a large number of land managers and/or significantly impact on the carbon abatement of a particular region or sub-sector. Please refer to section 6.4 of the Guidelines for further information about what ‘delivery at scale’ entails.


Who is eligible for funding?

Eligible applicants must be one of the following:

  • farmer or agribusiness
  • Aboriginal landholder/manager including Traditional Owner groups, land councils or Registered Native Title Body Corporates
  • not-for-profit organisations
  • government entity
  • community natural resource management/conservation organisation
  • peak body or industry organisation
  • producer association
  • approved research institute
  • co-operative/mutual organisation.

Please note that carbon service providers operating for-profit are not eligible to apply.

Can carbon service providers/agents apply for funding?

Not-for-profit organisations can apply for funding, including carbon service providers. Commercial carbon service providers operating for-profit are not eligible to apply for funding, however they may work with eligible applicants to assist with their project or contribute as a partner provided any co-contributions are outlined clearly in the budget.

What is the definition of ‘carbon service providers operating for-profit’ that are not eligible to be applicants?

We are using the definition of carbon service providers provided by the Clean Energy Regulator, as follows:

“Carbon service providers (CSPs) are project proponents as defined in the CFI Act where they are authorised to be the project proponent and conduct Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Projects by parties who hold legal right (typically landholders or landowners). They are sometimes referred to as ‘aggregators’.”

To put it simply, for-profit companies that have in the past and will in the future register projects under the ERF on behalf of landholders are not eligible to apply for the grant themselves.

An organisation is generally considered as operating for-profit unless it is a government body or is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission as a not-for-profit. Other organisations, such as a registered co-operative, may also be able to demonstrate that they are not operating for-profit.

In the context of the High impact partnership grants, an applicant should be eligible to apply if they (including any entity they are legally associated with) are not defined as both a carbon service provider and as operating for-profit. For example, a commercial business can provide advice to landholders and assist them with registering carbon offset projects under the ERF, without being defined as a CSP, provided they do not (in the past and during this High impact partnership project) register projects on behalf of landholders.

If I partner with a carbon service provider, will investor contributions contribute to co-investment in an application? (For example: carbon provider and investor paying to plant trees)

Yes, but you will need to outline this clearly in the budget at the full application phase as a co-contribution provided that they are not on the exclusion list (refer to section 2.5.2 of the Guidelines for this list). Clear evidence of all co-contribution expenditure is needed for financial audit reports by the funding recipient. 

Please note that we will not consider in-kind contributions as part of the required 50% co-contribution. In-kind contributions are non-monetary resources used on the project where no cash has been transferred to the recipient’s account/s for the project.

My project is not located in NSW. Am I eligible?

No. Projects must be delivered within NSW to be eligible for this funding.

Our organisation is based outside of NSW, but our proposed project locations are in NSW. Can I still apply?

Yes. As long as all on-ground projects funded by this grant are within NSW, you are eligible.

If my application is successful, do my contractors need to be from NSW?

We are aware that NSW or Australia may not have the necessary expertise for your project. It is acceptable to outsource expertise outside NSW provided the project outcomes benefit NSW.

Are there any requirements on the use of the Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) that are generated from the partnership projects?

No. We have not mandated any requirements on the use of ACCUs created. 

Are Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) per dollar invested considered an essential assessment criteria for grant success?

There is no mandatory number of ACCUs under the project eligibility criteria. However, the number of ACCUs must be provided in all applications and is assessed as part of several merit criteria that contribute to the overall assessment score for the High impact partnership (HIP) project.

The number of ACCUs is assessed as a mandatory criterion under project effectiveness (Merit criterion 1).

The number of ACCUs per dollar of grant fund invested is assessed as a mandatory criterion under value for money (Merit criterion 3).

If the optional Merit criterion 5 (Deliver abatement at scale) is selected, then one option to justify the ‘at scale’ nature of the project is a detailed account of the number of ACCUs per dollar of grant fund invested. This will require a credible justification for an accurate estimate of the large number of ACCUs that will be generated by the project.

Blue carbon projects require tidal models to register with the Clean Energy Regulator (CER). Will you pay for hydrological models? Farmers won't commit land until they know dollar return potential.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to outline in their application which method they want to register their project under, such as blue carbon, at the EOI stage. We will not provide scoping funding as the carbon project’s potential must be communicated to us by the applicant at the application stage. 

The High impact partnership (HIP) grant can support assessments for the development of new carbon projects under an eligible Emissions Reduction Fund method such as blue carbon. However, the application must include a well-justified estimate of the potential Australian Carbon Credit Units that will be registered during the HIP-funded project period.

NSW legislation says any land below mean tidal high water is Crown Land. Does this mean farmers flooding for blue carbon projects lose their land and Australian Carbon Credit Unit claims?

The legal implications of removing a tidal barrier should be reviewed on a site-by-site basis.

Guidance from the CER on the blue carbon method includes advice that the required hydrological assessment will help inform legal arrangements and identify predicted changes in legal interest for the carbon project area over time.

Any removal of a tidal barrier which may change tidal water boundaries must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Each applicant should take into consideration clauses 46 and 48 (‘doctrine of erosion and accretion’) of the Survey and Spatial Information Regulation 2017 and the ‘modified doctrine of erosion and accretion’ under section 28 of the Coastal Management Act 2016.

Would material costs such as fencing for improved land management be eligible for funding?

Yes, provided that the fencing is directly related to the project that is registered under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Materials reasonably required for establishing a more permanent demonstration site, such as fencing to provide safe access, would also be eligible.

Is a demonstration site mandatory or just one option for capacity building?

It is expected that demonstration sites will be developed as part of capacity-building activities. More information on the broad definition of a demonstration site, which may include online case studies and videos not just physical site access, is provided in section 6.3 of the Guidelines.

Can you provide a list of allowable costs?

We cannot provide a definitive list of what is eligible as different applicants will propose different types of projects. However, costs associated with the registration of the project under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) are eligible. This includes, the hiring of experts to assist with demonstrating project feasibility, legal advice, or financial advice associated with the project. 

Costs associated with creating promotion and communication material, establishing demonstration sites and running promotion events are also eligible. 

After a project is registered with the ERF, implementation costs and other additional costs associated with the work can be funded from the grant for the duration of the High impact partnership project agreement, provided it is not on the exclusion list. Please refer to section 2.5.2 of the Guidelines for this list.

Can the project be already registered with the Regulator before the grant is awarded? Is High impact partnership (HIP) funding available if the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) project registration has recently been submitted and is under evaluation?

It is preferred that the proposed carbon project is registered with the ERF after applicants succeed in applying for HIP funding. However, if you have a clear and compelling case explaining why the project is already registered but will not be going ahead without this funding, then your proposal may be considered. The appropriate place to explain this is under Merit Criterion 3 in the application – Demonstrate why funding from the NSW Government is essential for the project to proceed.

However, no part of the HIP project delivery may begin before the HIP contract is signed. If a carbon project has been registered with the CER and has since begun, it will not be eligible. 

To be successful, an applicant must demonstrate that their HIP project will do one or more of the following:

  • deliver abatement at scale
  • deliver co-benefits alongside carbon abatement
  • use innovative delivery to maximise benefits to land managers.

It is also expected that applicants, once they have signed a contract with us and have successfully registered their project with the CER, will begin implementation as soon as is possible.

What if I don’t meet the eligibility criteria?

There will be future grant opportunities, including smaller competitive grants scheduled to be launched in 2023. Please register your interest on our website to receive further information as it becomes available.

I’m not sure if my project is eligible. Who can I ask?

As a first step, please review the grant guidelines and any other information provided on our website, including links to the eligible Emissions Reduction Fund methods.

If you still have any questions about your project’s eligibility, email our team at [email protected]

Applying for a grant

What is the application process?

The application is a two-phase process. In phase 1, please submit an initial expression of interest (EOI) application. If your EOI application is successful, you will be invited to submit a full application for phase 2. Applicants who are successful at the full application phase will be invited to enter into a funding agreement with us. Refer to Section 7 in our grant guidelines for more information on the application and assessment process.

How do I submit my application?

All applications must be submitted online via SmartyGrants, a secure online grant management tool. Expressions of interest must be submitted before 15 February 2023 at 5 pm AEDT. Any feedback regarding your application will be delivered through the SmartyGrants portal.

Is there any limit on the number of applications that can be submitted?

Eligible applicants can submit up to 3 EOIs. However, no more than one EOI from each applicant may progress to the full application phase.

How much detail do I need to provide in the Expression of Interest?

For phase 1 you are invited to submit a short, high-level EOI outlining the key elements of your project for consideration by our technical assessors. The EOI must be submitted by 15 February 2023.

During this process there is no need for you to provide a detailed breakdown and analysis. We'll discuss with you any additional information that may be needed prior to your project progressing to phase 2 (full application).

How do I know if my application has been received?

You will be notified by email via the SmartyGrants portal that your application has been received. This email will contain a unique application number that you can quote if you have any questions specific to your application.

If you do not receive this notification or have any other queries regarding your application, email our team at [email protected].

Are there guidelines for developing and submitting my application?

Yes. Please refer to the grant guidelines, including section 6 for information on developing your application and section 7 for information on submitting your application.

How will applications be assessed?

We will assess EOI applications against the eligibility and merit criteria outlined in sections 3 and 4 of the Guidelines. Full applications will be assessed against the criteria in section 5 of the Guidelines.

How do I know if my project has progressed to the full application phase?

Applications can be submitted at any time before closing on 15 February 2023. We expect that EOI reviews will take 4 to 6 weeks and if successful, we will then invite you to submit a full application.

If my application is unsuccessful, can I seek feedback?

Yes. If you are unsuccessful, we will advise you in writing with details on how to seek feedback on your application. An unsuccessful application will not disqualify you from applying for future rounds of funding.

Do I need to identify all potential program partners at EOI or full application phase?

We expect you to be able to provide the details of your project partners who will be contributing to the project at the EOI stage, however this list and letters of commitment will be finalised at the full application stage.

What happens if I miss the EOI application deadline?

Unfortunately, the deadline is binding, and applications submitted beyond the deadline will not be considered. However, there will be future grant programs that you will be able to apply to.

Will I have support to have projects registered under the Clean Energy Regulator (CER)?

You can seek external assistance to undertake this work, for example by hiring a consultant. You’re also eligible to use the grant funding to register a project under the CER after a contract with us has been signed. Where possible, the Net Zero Land team will provide information that may also be of assistance. Email our team at [email protected].

Who in the Net Zero Land team can provide guidance on the assessment of co-benefits, e.g. biodiversity credits?

It is the applicant’s responsibility to undertake this assessment, and to explain what co-benefits their project will provide (under Merit criterion 7). The Net Zero Land team may be able to provide some assistance to applicants during the development of their full application, but the applicant must be able to reasonably explain at a high level at the expression of interest (EOI) phase whether their project will provide co-benefits and if so, what they will be.


Given applicants must contribute at least 50% of the eligible costs of the project, can this be in the form of, for example, wages and volunteer time?

Wages for staff employed for the project may be considered as a co-contribution. Volunteer time is considered an in-kind contribution, not a co-contribution.

In-kind contributions may be specified in the full application but will not be considered as part of the required 50% co-contribution. In-kind contributions are non-monetary resources used on the project where no cash has been transferred to the recipient’s account/s for the project. We expect at least 50% of eligible costs to be matched by the applicant and their partners.

Soil Carbon projects may not deliver credits within 3 years - what does this mean for High impact partnerships (HIP) funding?

All grant-funded components of the projects must be completed within 3 years. These will include:

  • preparing and registering carbon project/s under an eligible Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) method
  • implementation of the carbon project as soon as practical following registration under the ERF
  • creating promotional material including demonstration sites for capacity-building
  • any other outcomes outlined in the HIP project application.

The ERF carbon project/s will be registered with the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and will be subject to reporting, maintenance, permanence and regulatory requirements set by the CER. Projects will generate Australian Carbon Credit Units beyond the lifetime of the HIP-funded project. Ongoing costs associated with the carbon project/s will not be funded by the grant.

Privacy and confidentiality

My application and registration will include personal information. How do you manage this information?

The Office of Energy and Climate Change (the Office) has legal obligations under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) in relation to the collection, storage, access, use and disclosure of personal information. When collecting your personal information, we will provide you with a privacy statement that details how this information will be managed in accordance with privacy law.

The SmartyGrants portal is a secure location for your project application information.

If my grant is successful, how are announcements made and any media managed?

A list of all successful grantees and projects will be made available on our website.

Any statement that you make to the media related to your project must first be approved by the Office.

Further information

If you have a question that you can’t find an answer to in the grant guidelines or this FAQ, email [email protected].

Register to receive updates about net zero land management in NSW, including updates to this FAQ, here.