Concern about group balance

26 Feb, 2004 07:00 PM
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THE Pastoralists and Graziers Association is worried the working group addressing the government's land clearing regulations will not adequately respresent farmers' interests.

The working group was announced following the passage of a motion at last week's PGA meeting at Mt Barker.

More than 300 farmers attended the meeting on the issue of environmental harm and land clearing.

The motion read - "this (Mt Barker) meeting fully supports the PGA in its rejection of the State Government's proposed environmental harm regulations as being unworkable in their current form, contrary to the minister's promise that these regulations would not adversely affect the day-to-day farming operations of private landholders".

The meeting called on Environment Minister Judy Edwards to form a small working group comprising landholders, local government and other relevant stakeholders to develop a more reasoned and practical set of regulations.

Dr Edwards was also asked to defer a final decision on these proposed regulations until their impact has been further assessed.

She has extended the closing date for submissions by a two weeks to March 5.

The PGA has expressed its concern that groups openly hostile to the farming sector dominate the working group.

The working group's inaugural meeting takes place this Friday.

PGA private property rights chairman Craig Underwood said that clearing for firebreaks, animals chewing the bark of a tree, fires in remnant vegetation all constituted environmental harm under the new legislation.

"The entire pastoral industry is founded on the grazing of native vegetation," he said.

"Turning lambing ewes in to bush to avoid bad weather also could be considered environmental harm."

Mr Underwood said it was evident at Mt Barker that the vast majority of landholders have no idea of the implications of the new legislation.

He said riparian zones would become complete no-go areas.

"The legislation makes reference to (riparian) vegetation associated with the passage and storage of water," he said.

"We could be dealing with sites where bracken, melaleucas (paper bark) and rushes all grow.

"Entire farms could be classified as riparian zones.

"And it is not clear where the issue of salt creeks and salt affected zones fits in the regulations."

Mr Underwood said there was a need to bear in mind the social and economic impacts of the legislation, not only the environmental implications.

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