North Coast environment groups have slammed the state government’s public consultation on changes to nature conservation laws, and urged locals to write to their local MP.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage conducted invitation-only stakeholder sessions in Coffs Harbour yesterday, with information sessions for the public in the evening.
But many north coast environment groups were not invited, despite the Coffs Harbour session being the only scheduled briefing for people on the whole north coast.
National Conservation council chief executive Kate Smolski accused the Baird Government of trying to ‘push through the biggest change in nature laws in more than a generation with a paltry eight-week public consultation in a handful of locations’.
‘Many people are not even aware these consultations are happening,’ she said.
Ms Smolski said the Bellingen Environment Centre was just one group not invited
She said the BEC’s representative Caroline Joseph had contacted her after insisting that she be allowed to attend the stakeholder session.
‘She said she was alarmed that open discussion of the risks inherent in the proposed system was not allowed at the stakeholder sessions,’ Ms Smolski said.
‘Ms Joseph said that when participants suggested the proposed laws would harm the environment, discussion was shut down.
‘The eight-week public consultation process that the government is rushing through is a sham and gives the impression that it is merely a tick-the-box exercise Mr Baird needs to do before he rams his new laws through parliament.
‘The Baird government made it clear at the beginning of this term of parliament that it would tear down our existing nature protection laws, a move clearly designed to appease extremists in the National Party, the developer lobby and big agribusiness.’
Ms Smolski urged locals to make a submission opposing the new laws, and write to their local MP expressing their views.
Submission can be made via the online form at https://www.landmanagement.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say/
Harmful effects of the proposals include:
The package will:
- add extinction pressure to the state’s 999 threatened animal and plant species by accelerating land clearing, one of the main threats; [See Background below]
- threaten clean, reliable water supplies by increasing erosion and siltation of streams and dams;
- degrade fertile farms by increasing topsoil loss and salinity;
- put landmark trees and bushland in towns, suburbs and cities at greater risk;
- release millions of tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere by increasing land clearing;
- undermine Federal Government programs that pay farmers millions to retain bushland.