A NSW government plan to weaken native vegetation laws will lead to land clearing levels not seen since NSW was one of the worst offenders in the world, according to the Total Environment Centre.
The release of the Native Vegetation Regulation Review by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage reveals that millions of hectares of native vegetation, currently requiring careful management, will be subject to no effective scrutiny at the stroke of the minister’s pen.
‘In the name of ‘flexibility’ and ‘administrative savings’ the NSW government has revealed its intention to escalate an unprecedented attack on environmental regulation, which it also revealed this week by the decision to allow hunting in national parks,’ said TEC director Jeff Angel.
‘Even under existing laws, last year was reported as the worst year on record for land clearing and forest logging consents in NSW. Land clearing is recognised as the single biggest threat to wildlife in Australia and is a major contributor to global warming.’
Mr Angel said the majority of property owners are doing the right thing, and respect the environment, ‘but this attack on existing regulation is being driven by an extreme faction. Minister Parker and premier O’Farrell have shown this week that they’re only too willing to accommodate such views.’
The two key changes proposed by the review involve the clearing of so-called ‘invasive’ species, which are really the return of native vegetation in over cleared landscapes, and reduced environmental assessment and offset rules. The clearing will become an activity that does not require consent, and the weakened assessment methodology will mean more vegetation decline. Both will create major compliance nightmares.
‘We hope these issues can be worked through with the government and stakeholders, but TEC will also be fighting to protect and improve native vegetation laws, through its new Living Landscapes campaign,’ Mr Angel said.