The NSW Environment Protection Authority has refused to act on breaches by a landowner at Limpinwood in the Tweed Valley who has cleared large tracts of old-growth forest under a controversial policy, according to anti-logging campaigners.
Environmental activists and neighbours say unauthorised logging and road works by Hewittville Pty Ltd, whose property on Boormans Road borders World Heritage forests, have gone unpunished.
The landowner’s actions have been subject to recent protests and Tweed Shire Council scrutiny, but because the logging operation was approved under a state-sanctioned Private Native Forestry Agreement, the government has control over logging there.
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) says it’s ‘dismayed’ by the EPA’s refusal to do anything about the breaches, despite the authority confirming they had occurred.
‘The EPA found that in breach of five conditions of the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice trees were felled across streams, a log dump was constructed too close to a stream, and that snig tracks and roads were inadequately drained to reduce erosion,’ NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
‘It is disturbing that the EPA were not concerned that the roading and logging had occurred across some 18 hectares of an Environmental Protection Zone without consent’, Mr Pugh said.
‘Its worrying that the EPA can claim that ‘”here was no harm to the environment” from these breaches when it is evident that they did not investigate the full extent of breaches and made no attempt to assess how much sediment had entered the streams and what effect it has had.
‘This is the EPA’s standard response to all NEFA’s complaints, no matter how serious, the EPA always claim no environmental harm even when it is obvious that there has been.
‘It is clear that the EPA does not enforce environmental laws because they don’t believe breaching them has any effect what-so-ever. The best we can expect from the EPA these days are meaningless warning letters.
‘The EPA confirmed the two Koala High Use Trees that NEFA had reported, though thought nothing of the fact that one had a road excavated up to its base or that they could find no evidence of any koalas remaining in that vicinity.
‘We wonder where the koalas are now, and what fate awaits them, the EPA obviously don’t care’, Mr Pugh said.
A neighbouring landowner, Susie Hearder, sid that she had been reporting significant pollution events coming from the property to the EPA since 2013.
‘Yet the EPA only bothered to come for a token look on Tuesday,’ Ms Hearder told Echonetdaily.
‘On showing them one-metre deep mud in a rainforest gully they weren’t even interested in pursuing the sediment trail back to its source.
‘The EPA are doing anything but protecting the environment.
‘Over 3.5 kilometres of unauthorised roads have been built on Crown Land yet EPA say that’s not their problem.
‘An Environmental Zone was logged without authorizstion yet EPA say that’s not their problem. Now they say the pollution is also not their problem. It’s the EPA that are the problem.
‘The local community is outraged that this logging licence was handed out like a lolly without any DA or onsite surveys required, and apart from ignoring the significant wildlife values, there was no consideration given to the inadequate local road network.
‘With our local swimming holes polluted and having to dodge logging trucks when we go out, we feel like we are living in a polluted industrial zone. Heaven help the koalas ‘ Ms Hearder said.
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