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Byron Shire
May 31, 2024

Dr Leon Ankersmit looks at mining, and thermal waste incinerators in the Clarence

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The junction of the Mann and
Clarence Rivers. Corazon site top left. Photo supplied

Dr Leon Ankersmit has stated that he supports the position of no mining in the Clarence catchment but has stopped short of signing the Clarence Catchment Alliance pledge to ‘ban mining’ in the Clarence catchment. Similarly, he is is not in support of a thermal waste incinerator ‘where there are available alternatives’. 

Read on to find out more about Labor’s commitment to waste and emissions reduction as well as their position on regenerative agriculture.

To see Dr Ankersmit’s response on STRA and floodplain development click here.

Do you support the Clarence Catchment Alliance (CCA) anti-mining pledge? What action will you take if elected to achieve a ban on mineral mining in the Clarence catchment? The pledge supports the CCA position against mining in the Clarence catchment. 

I support the efforts made by the Clarence Catchment Alliance (CCA) to seek bipartisan commitment against mining in the catchment.

As a resident of the Lower Clarence I am strongly in favour of an anti-mining stance and if elected I will work within a NSW Labor government to advocate strongly on behalf of our communities to safeguard and protect the Clarence catchment. I am hopeful that the representations made by the CCA, the Labor branches of the Clarence, and myself as the elected member will achieve a commitment from NSW Labor. Until then I will work with the communities of Clarence to bring a strong voice from the community into the NSW Parliament and to keep this issue on the agenda.

♦ Dr Ankersmit has not signed the CCA’s pledge to ban mining.

Dr Leon Ankersmit is running for Labor in the seat of Clarence.

Do you or your party support the NSW Government Policy and Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Thermal Energy from Waste) Regulation 2022 which allows a thermal waste incinerator to be built in the Richmond Valley Job Precinct Casino?

Labor does not support waste to energy where there are available alternatives that are economically sustainable, economically practicable and supported by the local community.

Energy from waste may be an appropriate resource recovery option only when there are no other options further up the waste recovery hierarchy that will provide better environmental outcomes.

Any proposed facilities must conform to world’s best practice and must operate to the highest environmental standards.

More needs to be done in the first place to avoid, reduce, reuse and recycle waste before it gets sent to landfill and incinerators.

NSW Labor supports a transition to a circular economy for our waste, with zero incineration and landfill. In the meantime, we will be guided by four core principles when it comes to these proposals:

  • An objective of achieving 75 per cent waste recovery by 2030
  • Recognising that social license is a vital requirement for approval of a waste-to-energy facility
  • A requirement that facilities be used to recover energy from residual waste only
  • Hazardous waste and native forest materials should be banned from use in waste-to-energy facilities.

The current NSW planning system is not designed to deal with community concerns about the technology to be used in proposed waste-to-energy projects. In Government, NSW Labor would ensure there are appropriate safeguards and oversight mechanisms put in place for this technology.

We will ensure the technology being put forward in proposals is independently reviewed by the NSW Chief Scientist to ensure public confidence. For any proposals already approved by the Liberals and Nationals, NSW Labor will implement additional safety and oversight mechanisms to monitor and report on the emissions and operations of these facilities.

What is your position and policies on the climate emergency and what they are planning to do for mitigation and adaptation in our region?

A Minns Labor Government Will:

  • Labor will legislate the state’s carbon emissions reduction targets, as well as establish a Net Zero Commission. The state’s net zero carbon emissions by 2050 target, and its 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions on 2005 levels by 2030 target are merely aspirational.
  • A Minns Labor Government will help save koalas from extinction by protecting key habitats and restoring environmental protections torn up by the Liberals and Nationals over the past 12 yearsLabor’s plan will protect koala habitat by committing $80 million to create an iconic Great Koala National Park on the Mid North Coast between Kempsey and Coffs Harbour, protecting approximately 20 percent of the wild koala population in NSW.

Under the Liberal and National Government

  • There’s been an estimated 41 per cent decline in koala numbers in NSW since 2018.
  • Koalas are on track to be extinct in the wild by 2050.
  • Matt Kean announced a plan to double the population of koalas, then later admitted the target was ‘aspirational’ and a ‘political marker’.

Land Clearing

  • NSW Government watered down environmental protections against land clearing in 2016.
  • Since that time we’ve seen average annual land clearing rates increase by 72%.
  • 284,400 hectares of woody vegetation were lost between 2016 and 2020.

Net Zero and Climate

  • Matt Kean’s net zero targets are merely aspirational – they have refused to legislate them.

Threatened Species

  • In twelve years, the threatened species list has grown to 1043.
  • 54 more species have been added to the list, 2 species have become extinct and 47 have had their status raised to critically endangered.
  • The Auditor General released a scathing report showing the Government’s failing Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will exacerbate the extinction of threatened plants and animals throughout NSW.

Native forestry logging

  • Labor is committed to the NSW Forest industry.
  • Labor will ensure there are no net job losses as part of the creation of a GKNP.
  • This will be achieved by supporting softwood and hardwood plantations across the state as well as through the construction of new trails and tourism infrastructure, effective fire and tree management, conservation, tourism facilities such as visitor centres in any newly reserved areas.
  • Labor will also undertake a skills audit to guide investment and incentives to encourage new economic opportunities in the forestry industry.
  • Labor will support a process that involves the participation of relevant stakeholders including landowners, native title entities, the forestry industry, environment groups and workers and their representatives to reach agreement about the management of forests at a regional landscape level.
  • This will focus on an environmentally and economically sustainable approach, reducing reliance on native forests and meeting more of our timber demands from plantations.

What about ending native forest logging?

  • This is not Labor’s plan. Labor supports the NSW Forest industry.

Labor supports a process that involves the participation of all relevant stakeholders to reach agreement about the management of forests at a regional landscape level, with a focus on an environmentally and economically sustainable approach, reducing reliance on native forests and meeting more of our timber demands from plantations.

Also, do they have policies and strategies to transition to regenerative agriculture models to ensure young farmers can establish themselves on the land and implement farming techniques that are ecologically beneficial?

A Minns Labor Government will strengthen and secure the resilience of our Agriculture industry, by legislating and funding

  • an Independent Biosecurity Commission, that will be headed by a new Biosecurity Commissioner who will provide independent advice and report to Parliament on an annual basis.
  • direct $10 million to a good neighbor program to tackle weed and pest infestations on government land neighbors private property.
  • appoint a Dairy and Fresh Food Commissioner that will report to Parliament and hold the Government to account on delivering a sustainable dairy industry as well as supporting other fresh food producers.

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