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May 10, 2021

Challenge lodged against Lismore biodiversity plan approval

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Regen projects such as these are set to benefit from funding raised through a rate rise to support Lismore City Council's Biodiversity Management Strategy.
Regen projects such as these are set to benefit from funding raised through a rate rise to support Lismore City Council’s Biodiversity Management Strategy.

Darren Coyne

A majority of Lismore City councilors have voted to push ahead with plans to raise $500,000 with a special rate to fund a biodiversity strategy.

The strategy aims to provide funds for work, mainly in rural areas, for regeneration, weed control and tackling feral animals.

Environmental scientist and Lismore Landcare stalwart Kristen den Exter urged councilors to adopt the strategy during public access.

‘Since I was born we’ve lost half the species worldwide. The north coast has such high biodiversity yet we’ve got less than one per cent of the Big Scrub left.

‘Our wildlife is suffering and we must do more at the local scale.’

Mayor Jenny Dowell, along with Crs Venessa Ekins, Isaac Smith, Ray Houston, Simon Clough and Glenys Ritchie supported the BMS despite efforts from Cr Greg Bennett and Mathew Scheibel to delay or do away with the strategy.

But it only takes three to sign a rescission motion, and that’s exactly what happened at the end of this week’s council meeting.

A rescission notion was lodged by Cr Graham Meineke and co-signed by Crs Neil Marks and Mathew Scheibel, although Crs Greg Bennett and Gianpero Battista also voted against the approval.

Cr Ekins said the BMS was the culmination of an eleven year process that had involved three environmental committees and extensive consultation.

‘We want it, we need it, we can afford it,” she said.

‘Water, air and soil are important and they are under threat.’

Cr Mathew Scheibel was unsuccessful in trying to move an amendment to wait for changes to native vegetation laws that had been proposed by the state government.

Cr Neil Marks was also wary, saying if money lf money could be found in a review of services supplied by the council it would be better for the community than applying a new rate.

Cr Isaac Smith said as an urban ratepayer he was happy to pay extra to improve biodiversity on rural properties.

‘This council will spend more on roads than any other council has ever spent because we’ve been working hard to cut budgets and improve services,’ he said.

The rescission motion will be dealt with at the next council meeting.

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