20.2 C
Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

EPA ‘misleading’ over forest clearing changes

Latest News

My own pandemic imaginations

Robert Podhajsky, Ocean Shores Imagination is a powerful mechanism; I must admit I get unsettled with my own pandemic imaginations...

Other News

Empanadas and community spirit in wake of cancelled Bluesfest

With a collective sigh of disbelief and disappointment we processed the news that Bluesfest was cancelled

Sick to my stomach

Gabi Giacomin, Ocean Shores I cannot believe it! We have voted for a Green MP, a Green Council, we have...

Character test for PM without much

Over Easter I visited a friend who’s spent decades doing her best to protect old growth forests, preserve human connection with nature in the raw and help save our planet from the climate emergency.

Wooing the discerning gin drinker with Husk Botanic

Husk founder, Paul Messenger, introduces his new Husk Botanic – a fresh cane spirit, designed to be mixed with...

New food donation campaign launched

A new campaign is set to make a big difference in helping to reduce waste and provide more food security for our region.

Women’s rights focus at Renew Fest

Two further headlining guests have been announced for Renew Fest, which describes itself as a ‘festival of full system...

The Richmond River estuary at Ballina - rated F in a 2015 Ecohealth report. Photo environment.nsw.gov.au
The Richmond River estuary at Ballina – rated F in a 2015 Ecohealth report. Photo environment.nsw.gov.au


The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has accused the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of ‘intentionally misleading’ the community by claiming that unmapped streams in state forests in the Richmond catchment are not currently required to be protected by 10-metre buffers.

Last month the EPA announced that land-clearing buffers for unmarked streams in the state would be reduced from 10 metres to five.

But, NEFA says, the authority tried to paint it as a win for the environment by saying that the changes would bring unmarked water courses in state forests into line with all other streams in the state

‘NEFA categorically rejects the EPA’s claim that unmapped streams on state forests in the Richmond catchment do not have a 10-metre buffer applied, and stand by our contention that all mapped headwater streams, and most unmapped ones, are currently legally required to have 10-metre buffers applied’, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.


‘We maintain that it is environmentally irresponsible for the EPA to halve the protection of headwater streams on state forests in the Richmond catchment from 10 metres to five metres and have no doubt that this will result in increased pollution and degradation of the river.’

The announcement comes on the back of news that the Richmond River catchment is already in bad shape.

Last week North Coast Local Land Services released its Ecohealth report on the state of the Richmond River valley, which gave an overall score for the catchment of just D+.

Scores ranged from an F in the Wilsons River and Richmond River estuary to a C in the headwater streams of the catchment, such as Iron Pot Creek.

Twelve of the 17 river systems recorded a score of D or less.

The headwater streams will now face even further pressure as many of them contain areas of state forest.


‘We are disappointed with the EPA’s secrecy surrounding their remake of logging rules, we are shocked by their proposed introduction of widespread clear-felling and reductions in protections for streams and threatened species, though we are disgusted with their misinformation about what they are intending’.

Mr. Pugh said, ‘When I let the public know about their proposal to zone 143,000 hectares of public forests between Taree and Grafton for intensive clear-felling, the EPA accused me of being ‘selective’ and ‘misleading’.  When I asked them to justify this they first told me it was their ‘perspective’.

‘It took me three requests before they told me that it was because I had not mentioned that existing exclusion areas within this zone will still be protected, though they claimed to not know how much of the area would be protected. I had neither misrepresented the truth nor tried to mislead anyone,’ he added.

‘So it is outrageous for the EPA to now knowingly mislead the community about the level of protection currently applied to headwater streams in the Richmond catchment so as to again attempt to discredit me. They are trying to muddy the waters while they slash protection for our already severely degraded rivers.

‘What we need is an honest authority that will apply the best science and stand up for the environment, rather than a reluctant and ineffective regulator intent on gutting the rules to reward the Forestry Corporation’s decades of unlawful activities.

‘We reiterate our call for the NSW environment minister, Mark Speakman, to do his duty and stop the EPA from knowingly and intentionally allowing increased pollution of our rivers’ Mr. Pugh said.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Yes well !
    This fails to shock me, as I have seen the EPA collude with the logging industry to pursue illegal logging operations many times and seen their overseeing of the destruction of endangered species and habitat. despite their name, these people are the ‘go to ‘body for environmental destruction and conduct themselves as an arm of the despotic Abbott government and associated overseas industry.

    • What do you expect when Planning Minister Speakman controls EPA. All Plannig decisions have a revenue imperative not environmental or social.

  2. This is outrageous! We must start an immediate campaign to stop the EPA and the state government from trashing the remmants of riparian zone left in this region.
    The Nimbin, lismore and Casino environment centres can help spread the word. We are open all week from 10-4.00pm and Nimbin is even open on weekends. Use them that’s they are there for. NEFA has done a terrific job in the past, still does and we can work togethed. We need petitions, letters, radio discussions, demonstrations to fire up the public and stop this maddness.
    Governments must be made to understand that they are there to represent us not to do as they like.
    We must also stop being cynical and say what else do we expect from our governments. To do this gives them a virtual licence to do as they please. We have stopped them in the past and we need to do it again.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Inspector condemns prisoner health services

In the forward to the Inspector of Custodial Services Report published last month, Fiona Rafter Inspector of Custodial Services says that the provision of health services to inmates in New South Wales custodial facilities is a complex and challenging responsibility.

The importance of talking about ovaries

Brother and sister clothing designers Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman are, were 11 and 13 respectively when their mother died of ovarian cancer.

Dead rats in the Byron bubble?

Poppa Veet Mayo, Main Arm Am I the only one who can smell a dead rat in this bubble called the Byron Shire? Hear it happened...

Linen SHIFT project urgently needs new home

With a vision to disrupt the cycle of women’s homelessness, the Linen SHIFT project was born to provide unique individual support and education for at-risk women in a safe residential environment, but today they they have been forced to close.