I oppose the NSW Government's proposed new land clearing laws, and support stronger protection for bushland and wildlife. I am concerned that the proposed changes will increase land clearing and carbon pollution, push wildlife closer to the brink of extinction and undermine the sustainability of our farmland.
This is a missed opportunity to improve current environmental legislation and fails to meet the NSW Government's key objective of facilitating ecologically sustainable development and the conservation of biodiversity.
I am particularly concerned with proposed changes that will:
-> Repeal the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 - these are important laws that have led to a significant decrease in land clearing and habitat loss;
-> Remove the requirement to 'maintain or improve biodiversity values', leading to a decline in environmental outcomes, soil health, water quality and salinity. There appears to be no mention of soil and water impact assessment in the bill.
-> Limit important safeguards, such as 'red flag' areas for environmentally sensitive areas;
-> Expand the use of 'self-assess able' codes allowing landholders to clear vegetation without proven knowledge, either through oversight or intentionally.
-> Increase the use of biodiversity offsets, with variations to 'like for like' offsetting and allowing proponents to clear trees in exchange for paying money into a fund.
-> Possibly allow for the clearing of EEC's.
-> Removes the provision for local government to monitor and preserve heritage and habitat trees. These decisions require local knowledge.- Predictive mapping should not be relied to determine actions. Predictive mapping is not going to tell you what really is or is not there on the ground. The mapping is not accurate enough for all of NSW although efforts have been made.
-> Potentially effecting travelling stock routes, crown lands and valuable roadside vegetation. Many threatened fauna and flora species are known to depend upon these habitats.
-> Concerns for weakening licencing for wildlife. Changes are proposed but have not been provided in enough detail.
The preparation time for the creation of this bill has been very short considering its complexity and importance for future Australians and their environment.
We have been asked to provide feedback to these legislative changes, however it is difficult to provide a constructive response when there is lack of detail in the information provided. Therefore this legislation should not be considered till it is complete and full details are available for public comment.
From the information provided these laws appear only to protect the most critically endangered, thereby leaving unlisted species to become critically endangered in the future as there is no provision to protect them in this legislation.
Habitat is also important to protect in the urban environment yet this has not been included in this Bill. Will the Urban component to this Bill be open for public comment? It is important that the urban areas should be included into the LEP land use permission.
We have been informed by the NSW government that these legislative changes are necessary because of the detrimental impacts to farmers. What percentage of NSW farmers have complained? NSW farmers have also accepted the existing legislation and the greater protection for the natural environment that it provides. Why therefore reduce this level of environmental protection?
I call on the government to withdraw the Draft Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act, and commit to laws which will genuinely improve outcomes for nature.
Please count this as my submission to the proposed biodiversity conservation reform package.
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