Conservation of North Ocean Shores Inc. (CONOS) objects strongly to the Biodiversity law 'reforms' package, including the proposed Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 and Draft Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016. The NSW Government must withdraw these proposals and commit to strengthening laws that conserve the environment as well as providing additional resources for their implementation.
1. The current requirement in the Native Vegetation Act 2003 for Development Applications to 'maintain or enhance' existing biodiversity at the site has not been carried into the new legislation. The removal of this requirement was not recommended by the independent panel assessing the biodiversity legislation requirements and is not supported by CONOS. This is an issue of intergenerational equity and it needs to be included in the new legislation.
2. Community consultation is very important to us. Not only is it important for the community to have a say, but it is equally important to be able to share records, information and history with government agencies. We object to reducing the requirement for community consultation which would severely disadvantage the public.
3. There was no mapping of categories in the draft Bill showing proposed changes that could impact our local area. This is an unacceptable omission.
4. Part 3A, Major Projects legislation has a history in NSW of being incorrectly applied on development applications submitted intentionally with over-inflated employment or economic benefit in order to take advantage of more relaxed requirements. This needs to be stopped in the new legislation and the same requirement for maintaining or enhancing biodiversity should be applied to all development, large or small.
5. CONOS does not support the removal of the requirement for 'like-for-like' offsets which would allow destruction of habitats without the assurance that these habitats and species are conserved elsewhere. This would weaken the protection of biodiversity.
The combination of climate change, loss of agricultural lands & and the acceleration in extinction of our native fauna species requires a cautious approach. The government has a 'duty of care' to protect and ensure the ongoing protection of our precious fauna species and the forests they depend upon for their survival.
President for CONOS
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