Byron Shire Council says it has no powers to intervene to prevent land-clearing of endangered subtropical lowland rainforest at a Repentance Creek Road property despite the fact that it appears some of land being cleared is on Council’s own road verge.
A council spokesperson said the recent clearing was ‘being undertaken under the auspice of a Timber Plantation Plan approved by DPI. The plan applies to the whole property.’
But Angus Underwood of Federal Landcare told Echonetdaily it was ‘clear these trees are not destined for forestry’.
While the landowner may be permitted to cut down plantation timbers, he said the rainforest in question had been ‘pushed into a pile and the owner has applied to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) for a burn permit’.
Echonetdaily understands both Byron Shire Council and the RFS have referred the matter to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), which oversees timber plantation permits.
Mr Underwood said the forest, which appears to have been clear-felled, was ‘typical of regrowth in the area’ and that lowland subtropical rainforest is a listed endangered community under NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, and Critically Endangered under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
‘The area is mapped as high conservation value land by Council, provides habitat for a range of threatened species and is located within a regional wildlife corridor,’ he said.
A spokesperson said Byron Shire Council was ‘aware of the clearing on land at 205 Repentance Creek Road and staff have been in contact with the land owner and the DPI’.
‘Enforcement of clearing under the approved plan sits outside Council’s enforcement powers.
‘Council staff have asked that the DPI do a compliance inspection as soon as possible due to the level of public enquiry being made,’ the spokesperson said.
But Mr Underwood said given the proximity of the clearing to the road, Council should undertake its own investigation.