Tweed Shire Council and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) undertook a joint inspection yesterday of the south eastern area of a logging operation near Limpinwood. The operation, that is part of a private native forestry agreement, has recently come under fire for unauthorised logging and roading.
An EPA spokesperson said: The ‘EPA identified some issues which will need to be further investigated. The landowner has agreed to cease logging on the property for the short term while matters are further looked into.’
A report to the Tweed Shire Council meeting this Thursday will recommend ‘that Council engage solicitors to provide preferred options for prosecution and to pursue a stop work court order,’ said Tweed Shire mayor, Katie Milne.
‘I will be asking that the State Government urgently revoke this logging licence due to the serious and repeated offences in this highly sensitive area.’
The area where logging and roading has taken place is in a key regional wildlife corridor between two World Heritage Areas – Wollumbin, Mt Warning and The Border Ranges. Around a kilometre of clearing for significant roadworks and logging has been undertaken in this protected area.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service website describes World Heritage Areas as ‘irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration – places of such value that the international community has agreed they must be conserved for all time’.
As well as concerns for threatened species and World Heritage values, there are major concerns for the potential of extensive sediment loads entering waterways, and the safety and stability of the works due to the poor road building techniques undertaken.
‘Council is taking this matter very seriously,’ continued mayor Milne.
Previous unauthorised logging
‘This developer has cleared in a very similar disastrous fashion on two occasions previously.’
Tweed Council are waiting to hear back how the State Government intends to pursue the matter after the site inspection today.
‘I will be asking that the state government urgently revoke this logging licence due to the serious and repeated offences in this highly sensitive area.
‘Compliance action for both state and council is costing a fortune and is a huge drain on our very limited resources,’ she finished.
North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson said that:
‘The Council report highlights the grossly inadequate assessments of environmental values and impacts undertaken for Private Native Forestry and the lack of consultation with local communities or consideration of impacts on local roads and bridges.
‘Though what NEFA finds most disturbing is that when the EPA inspected the site they did not care that the logging was occurring in Environmental Zones without consent.
‘This reinforces our concern that the new Native Forestry Bill that the Government is intending on introducing into parliament shortly will not only slash the minimal protections for threatened species, but also allow forestry free reign in Environmental Zones, thus totally disenfranchising local Councils and the community.’
The EPA has said that they ‘aim to finalise this investigation as soon as possible.’