20.4 C
Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Calls for ‘incompetent’ environment minister Upton to be sacked

Latest News

Tweed Council to write to government for more housing support

With a shortage of affordable housing in most areas of the Far North Coast, it is not surprising that Tweed is also feeling the pinch and Council has declared a housing emergency in the area owing to a lack of availability and affordability.

Other News

You Donne good

Liz Levy, Suffolk Park I’d like to thank whoever decided to reprint John Donne’s beautiful poem ‘No Man is an Island’...

Over population

Boyd Kellner, Newrybar ‘Over population’ is seen by some as the main destructive driver causing many crises besetting the planet today. From...

5MW solar farm funding under question

A 5MW solar farm proposed for Myocum, located near the Byron Resource Recovery Centre, poses a ‘high degree of risk’, and could jeopardise funding for other large Council infrastructure projects, according to a staff report, to be tabled at this Thursday’s meeting.

Could pyrolysis help solve the plastics crisis?

Philippe Dupuy from the Lismore Environment Centre thinks there is a role for pyrolysis technology in dealing with the global plastic waste dilemma, with new technology making it possible to turn plastic waste into a useful resource.

Affordable myth

Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads There is a ‘myth of affordable housing’ in Byron Shire. Well may councillors lament the lack of ‘affordable...

Augmented Reality gives local art exhibition a high-tech twist

A Byron Bay art gallery is seeking to bring paintings to life in its new exhibition, by making Augmented Reality technology part of the experience.

‘Incompetent’: NSW environment minister Gabrielle Upton (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

Chris Dobney

The state opposition has called for environment minister Gabrielle Upton to be ‘stripped of her duties’ following a damning report on the state of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) by the auditor-general.

In a separate issue, which raises further questions about the minister’s competence, the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) has announced it will challenge a controversial state land-clearing code she has attempted to implement, which it says is ‘identical’ to one it successfully challenged in court last year.

Report’s damning findings

Among other failings identified in her report, auditor-general Margaret Crawford found the EPA:

  • cannot be confident that it conducts compliance and enforcement activities consistently;
  • does not monitor the consistency or quality of its regulatory activities;
  • cannot be sure that correct licence conditions have been set for discharges into water;
  • does not effectively detect breaches and non-compliances; and
  • does limited monitoring of its performance in protecting the environment.

‘Rarely do auditor-general’s reports come as damning as this one, shadow environment minister Penny Sharpe said.

‘This report has found that NSW’s environment protection agency cannot fulfil its basic functions – functions that the community relies on to protect our environment and human health.

‘When an agency does not know how much pollution is going into our waterways, when the quality of our drinking water is declining, when illegal dumping is increasing and when clear breaches or deliberate pollution are occurring and the agency is doing nothing, it is time for the Premier to step in.

‘The minister… is clearly not capable of fixing the problems within the EPA. The Premier must intervene, strip the minister of this portfolio responsibility and put in place a minister who can urgently address the issues raised by the Auditor-General’s report.”

Land-clearing code ‘identical’ to last one

Meanwhile the NCC plans to challenge the validity of the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018, on the basis of documents received under freedom of information laws.

The 2018 Code was made in March 2018, only hours after the Land and Environment Court invalidated the 2017 Code, following the original challenge from the NCC.

The group says it is ‘identical in nature to the 2017 Code’.

It allows landholders to carry out ‘significant amounts of self-assessed clearing of native vegetation without further approval or environmental assessment, including in areas that might be home to threatened species and ecological communities,’ says the NCC.

EDO NSW CEO David Morris said NCC ‘took this decision because of the apparent failure, on the information available, of the Minister for the Environment to lawfully discharge her duty to consider the Code’s impacts to biodiversity’.

Unlawful

‘The documents indicate that the Minister for the Environment did not have sufficient time or material to enable to her to make the decision and that as a result, the 2018 Code was made unlawfully.’

‘This is a remarkable state of affairs,’ Mr Morris continued. ‘The legal regime makes it clear: the responsibility for ensuring that the Code does not have an unacceptable impact on the environment lies with the environment minister.

‘The Code is predicted to have significant and far reaching impacts to biodiversity.

‘These concerns are well known to the government and have been the subject of substantial public controversy.

‘The role of the Environment Minister outlined in the law is not one of rubber stamping, nor one of symbolism. Rather, it is the crucial check and balance to ensure the integrity of our state’s unique biodiversity in a changing climate,’ Mr Morris 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 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Simon Richardson steps down as Byron Shire Mayor

In an eventful day for Byron Shire Council, pot-stirrer Fast Buck$ was ejected from the council chambers yesterday and later Cr Simon Richardson announced that he will be stepping down as mayor from the end of next week.

Pay parking for Lennox Head?

Yesterday's Ballina Shire Council meeting saw councillors raise the spectre of paid parking at Lennox Head, and possibly elsewhere in the shire.

They will not be forgotten…

In the wake of the pandemic restrictions, ANZAC Day will be commemorated in a COVID safe fashion and some areas will ask residents to...

East Ballina Lions desperately needs new members

East Ballina Lions Club has given over thirty years of service to numerous community programs and initiatives, but if it doesn't get more members soon, it will have to close.