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May 18, 2021

Byron mayoral hopefuls’ eco credentials queried

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The ecological credentials of Byron Shire mayoral aspirants Basil Cameron and Diane Woods have been attacked by one of Byron’s most qualified environmentalists.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh is asking people concerned about the environment to not vote for either of them, based on their attempts to reduce environmental protections in the draft LEP during the current term of council.

But Cr Cameron has hit back, saying that a balance needs to be struck between establishing environmental protection zones and maintaining food security and farmers’ rights.

Mr Pugh told Echonetdaily, ‘on April Fools Day 2010 they both voted to overturn Byron Shire’s 2004 Biodiversity Conservation strategy and delete 81 per cent of the mapped high-conservation-value (HCV) vegetation from the proposed Environmental Conservation (E2) zone for the new Local Environment Plan.

‘Thankfully the state government rules would not allow Cameron and Woods to remove the existing (1988) environmental protection zones (7A, 7B, 7F, 7J and 7K) and so these were all that remained as E2.

‘Cameron and Woods could not be convinced that even core koala habitat should be protected,’ Mr Pugh said.

‘When on June 24 2010 the Greens tried to reinstate protection for old-growth forest, rainforest, native ecosystems (with less than 50 per cent weeds), endangered ecological communities, habitat around threatened plants, shorebird roosting and foraging sites, and key wildlife corridors at Billinudgel and behind Byron Bay, Cameron and Woods blocked protection of any of these values.’

‘Fortunately, with the support of Patrick Morrisey, the Greens eventually prevailed to get E2 zoning reapplied to most of the HCV vegetation identified in the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.’

Cr Cameron, who is currently deputy mayor and heads up Byron’s Our Sustainable Future’s ticket, has hit back at the claims.

‘I support and have never voted to overturn the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (BCS),’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘High-conservation-value (HCV) vegetation that is accurately mapped and meets the criteria in the BCS should remain in E2.’

‘Smaller or isolated remnants of HCV that occur on land zoned for agriculture should be protected with environmental protection zone E3 and the range of permitted agricultural uses expanded.’

‘To do otherwise will lock up large areas of land currently being used or potentially being used to strengthen local food security.’

‘Many farmers currently use income generated from agriculture to enhance biodiversity and expand areas of HCV on their properties. Restricting their income would jeopardise this important work.’

But Mr Pugh says the issue is more complex because the state government is set to ban council use of tree preservation orders to control land clearing on private properties.

‘Since 1986 Byron Shire has been using its tree preservation order (TPO) to protect native vegetation. But the state government has now decided to prohibit TPOs for properties over 10 hectares. With this state government in the process of winding back protection for native vegetation it has never been more important for Byron Shire to retain its protection for HCV forests by zoning them as E2.

‘Regrettably Basil Cameron and Diane Woods still want to remove 26 years of protection for native vegetation in Byron Shire and open up our most important forests for logging, mining, grazing, cropping, and horticulture. If your neighbour is allowed to construct CSG wells in their rainforest, log their old-growth forests or clear koala habitat for crops then it will be because they succeed.’

Cr Woods was approached for comment but none was received by press time.

About the E2 zone

The department of planning states that the new E2 zone is intended for ‘areas with high ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values’ where the intent is to provide ‘the highest level of protection, management and restoration for such lands whilst allowing uses compatible with those values’. Examples of lands with very high conservation values given by Department of Planning are old-growth forests, significant wildlife, wetlands, riparian corridors, endangered ecological communities, high-conservation coastal foreshores, and water-supply catchments.


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  1. Unfortunately, Greens can see no vision but their own and have no tolerance for compromise in their attacks on our food producers. They use dramatic and emotive words, along with scare tactics and bluster, in their strategies to promote agendas and policies which have no place for human communities, families or businesses. One of our most important community assets is our food producers who have emotional, financial and often traditional ties to the environment that is the mainstay of their family businesses. They are not the heartless “exploiters” or environmental vandals as they are often portrayed by green factions. How else do you think we get all the organic, grass-reared, low eco-mile, wild-caught, free range foods?

  2. we also have the big issue of our farmers markets under threat with the introduction of the draft markets policy by Basil Cameron threatening our local farmers and food supply.

  3. Dailan Pugh is a militant conservationist with a passionate commitment to the environment. Unfortunately the intensity of his convictions distorts his perception. Like most fundamentalists, he directs his righteous anger at those who share many of his values but who happen to believe a less confrontational approach might be more effective.

    Dailan’s attack on Basil Cameron, the mayoral candidate for Our Sustainable Future, shows the danger of his brand of eco-righteousness. Most of his allegations are factually wrong or deliberately misrepresented. Basil’s record as a councillor (see http://www.facebook.com/basilosf), his advocacy for National Parks, and his long involvement in Landcare make clear his commitment to the environment.

    Humans are an integral part of the eco-system. How we live and work impacts on environmental wellbeing. But attempting to purge human activity from the landscape is not the way to a more sustainable future. We need a much more intelligent, dare I say ecological, approach to transforming industrial growth society. This will be achieved not by witch-hunting but through dialogue.

    A vote for Basil Cameron and the OSF team is a vote for an inclusive, community-based approach to turning our region towards a sustainable future.

  4. Less acronyms and more plain language please. LEP, HCV, BCS, TPO, E2 etc, etc, etc… “keep it simple stupid”… please! (Or my vote’s going to the village idiot.)

  5. Have the utmost respect for Dailan’s years of work for conservation issues but also the utmost respect for Basil Cameron’s eclogical credentials – unfortunate spat.

  6. Rereading this article many times one is left with a very nasty taste in ones mouth that Green hype is being used as a tool against the facts ..a political tactic at election time. Cameron factually states he has never voted to overturn High conservation Land that is zoned E2. Land that is ‘accurately mapped’. He continues to insist on this stance.
    Whilst the contribution of Mr. Pugh is valuable his mapping differs from that stated in State mapping. This was viewed at a Council meeting several years ago. Obviously, the E2 must remain and support for farmers who respect same and a balance is respected for food growing.

    The real issue appears to be the demise of the Tree Protection Order which the State govt. is set to ban council powers on this issue. Now that is not Mr. Cameron’s dictate Mr. Pugh! Facts are always important when making accusations.

    Furthermore it is foolhardy to imagine in the current conservation climate any councillor would dare to overturn the E2!!

  7. Rather amusing – if not for the consequences – those who claim to be the Greens, as though those who are not actually members of the Greens political machine are not environmentally aware, often have a heavier ‘carbon footprint’ than those who do not politically grandstand on the green soap box.

    This candidate for Mayor is not handing out how-to-vote flyers or putting up posters; and I am a Pagan (thus naturally respectful of Mother Nature); and I am a Feral (which includes cold showers 9 months of the year); thus I have the lowest ‘carbon footprint’ of all the candidates – including lower than the Greens candidate, Simon Richardson.

    As too, many farmers are more green than any member of the Greens political machine. If a farmer plants thousands of trees, that farmer should be given a few ‘brownie points’ – converted into ‘greenie points’. Yes, we need to protect wildlife corridors; and our environment. However, human beings are part of nature too; and should be factored into decisions relating to environmental protection.

    Environmental protection zones should not be dictated by aerial photographs. As the military will inform, aerial shots can be very inaccurate – hence the need to do ground reconnaissance in order to accurately assess the situation on the ground before making any ‘executive decisions’. Environmental protection zone mapping should be a precise process based upon a combination of information sources – including the farmer’s and/or owners perspective; and on the ground observation of relevant authorities – including fire authorities. Environmental protection is not ‘black and white’ – nor a Greens political perspective. ‘Take only what you need from your Mother and show Her respect’.

    The Greens are hypocrites, demonstrated by the fact that Simon Richardson – Greens candidate – did not nominate this candidate, who is actually ‘greener’ than any member of the Greens party – including Simon Richardson, as second preference on the mayoral ballot paper. The Greens political machine gave the Greens preference to the less ‘green’ Basil Cameron; rather than the Candidate whose political campaign has an almost zero ‘carbon footprint’ – more green than the Greens.

    I respect the Earth, as do the majority of farmers. Yes, there are a few farmers who need an education – just as there are a few Greens who need to be made aware that sending my brother and my friends their political material is a waste of the Earth’s resources.


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