Group to clarify regulations

26 Feb, 2004 07:00 PM

ENVIRONMENT Minister Judy Edwards has announced a new working group to try and iron out the kinks in the government's land clearing regulations.

The move follows a motion passed at the Pastoralists and Graziers Association meeting on environmental harm and clearing at Mt Barker last week.

More than 300 people attended the meeting addressed by Dr Edwards and representatives from CALM, the Agriculture Department and the Department of Environment.

Since the meeting, Dr Edwards has extended the date for public submissions on the draft clearing regulations by two weeks to March 5.

Amendments to the Environment Protection Act passed through parliament last year and the main part of the Act was proclaimed on November 18, 2003.

The regulations relating to clearing, environmental harm, works approvals and licensing are still at the drafting stage, but due before parliament in the autumn session.

"The draft regulations have prompted lively debate amongst rural landholders, environment groups, business and the mining sector," Dr Edwards said.

"But it was clear at the Mt Barker meeting that the Government still has some way to go to explain what these regulations mean."

The working group is to be chaired by MLC Ken Travers and will seek representation from WAFarmers, the PGA, Conservation Council, Environmental Defenders Office, WA Local Government Association, CALM and the departments of Environment and Agriculture.

Dr Edwards said the Mt Barker meeting was constructive and gave her the opportunity to hear first-hand from people directly affected by the regulations.

"I am hoping that the working group will continue to discuss issues such as fire control, the removal of single trees, clearing of regrowth and issues relating to riparian zones," she said.

"We are not interfering with fire control and consider fire control and those related activities, paramount.

"Landholders do not have to apply for a permit to clear land for normal farming practices listed under the regulations.

"That's what the regulations do - they list separate exemptions or scenarios under which no permit is required at all."


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