Tweed Shire Council has appealed to the state’s environment minister to ban and review private forestry agreements in the shire, some of which have been blamed for major erosion from large-scale clearing of land on properties around Tyalgum in the Tweed Valley.
It’s also feared the state-approved forestry deals could visually impact on the national iconic landscape values of the caldera as well destroying koala and threatened species habitat.
Around 15 approvals for forestry agreements covering around 800 hectares of land in the Tweed have been handed out by the state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) recently, and at least two of those have come to the attention of Tweed council for unauthorised earthworks and pollution compliance issues.
Councillors on Thursday voted to call on environment minister Rob Stokes to urgently review the approvals given for the Tweed, especially three in the Wollumbin/Mt Warning area. (Crs Carolyn Byrne and Phil Youngblutt voted against, Warren Polglase absent).
They want a moratorium on any future approvals for private native forestry in the shire until the outcomes of the review are known and implemented, and also seek support from local candidates in the upcoming state election.
Cr Katie Milne, who moved the motion, said there was ‘great concern about the lack of ecological and heritage studies required and the lack of transparency or community consultation for these processes’.
‘To have three private native forestry approvals in the northern corridor from the World Heritage Listed Wollumbin/Mt Warning is of immense concern,’ Cr Milne told Echonetdaily.
‘I think the community would be shocked to learn that vast tracts of lands can be logged without any on ground ecological or aboriginal heritage studies, and with absolutely no transparency or consultation, even with local councils.
‘It seems like logging of native forests is virtually lawless in this state. I have had reports of koalas on properties adjacent to these logging sites and koala calls heard from these sites.
‘After having a related motion defeated a few months ago, I’m relieved that four of our seven councillors have now recognised this as a significant issue and were willing to put it to our state candidates to request a moratorium and review.
‘I hope the candidates see this as important enough to respond to before the election as this issue lies at the heart of our National Iconic Caldera Landscape values that the community holds so dear,’ she said.
Council in the past year has had to deal with several large landowners/developers in the Boormans Road and Zara Road areas of Tyalgum/Chillingham/Limpinwood area and threatened legal action over unauthorised roadworks blamed for erosion.
It’s believed the properties have private forestry agreements in place.
In one case, the unauthorised earthworks were blamed by neighbours and some councillors of causing a major ecological disatster after the nearby creek was polluted by runoff from the works.
Last year, a Tyalgum Road landowner was fined $1,500 for unauthorised earthworks when a bulldozer and other heavy equipment was used to build a road and house pads.