Green groups blame National Party 'radicals' for breakdown in land clearing talks

19 Feb, 2016 08:37 AM
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Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel says talks have been hijacked by 'radicals' in the Nationals Photo: Tamara Dean
Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel says talks have been hijacked by 'radicals' in the Nationals Photo: Tamara Dean

The state's peak environment groups have pulled out of discussions with the NSW government over proposed land clearing and biodiversity laws, declaring the process has been hijacked by "radicals" in the Nationals.

The NSW government is planning to overhaul biodiversity and land clearing laws introduced by Labor that have been long opposed by farming groups and the Nationals.

In 2014, an independent panel commissioned by the state government recommended repealing the Native Vegetation Act, Threatened Species Act and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act and introducing a new Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The government pledged to implement all 43 of the panel's recommendations and the office of environment and heritage, which is drafting the new laws, has been in negotiations with stakeholders.

But on Friday the NSW Nature Conservation Council, Wilderness Society, Total Environment Centre, National Parks Association, WWF Australia and Humane Society International announced they were withdrawing from the discussions.

They are demanding direct talks with the Environment minister Mark Speakman, Planning minister Rob Stokes and Primary Industries minister Niall Blair.

"We have provided detailed analysis and constructive feedback to help develop a conservation law that addresses the increasing threats to wildlife, soils and climate, but it is now clear that the government is on a course to pursue development at high environmental cost," they said in a joint statement.

"It has become clear that the broad outcomes of this process are being predetermined by a minority of rural interests, and the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Act will fail to secure adequate protections for our wildlife, water and soils.

"It will also increase climate change risks by permitting the resumption of broadscale land clearing. We therefore refuse to legitimise a wind-back of protections for nature by participating in the current stakeholder consultations any further."

TEC director Jeff Angel said the groups were walking away because "it is clear the government is focused on delivering a predetermined outcome for radicals in the National Party".

"We have no faith that the new system the government has been developing will protect our bushland and wildlife," he said.

"We are calling on the Ministers for Environment, Planning and Primary Industries to intervene to get the reform process back on track."

NSW NCC chief executive Kate Smolski accused Premier Mike Baird of "buckling to the demands of agribusiness and developers who want weaker nature protection laws to accelerate habitat destruction, the number one cause of wildlife extinctions."

"This legislation does not protect nature, it facilitates development," she said.

Comment is being sought from the NSW government and NSW Farmers Association.

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READER COMMENTS

David Hill
19/02/2016 1:47:33 PM

A bunch of green groups providing detailed analysis and constructive feedback, surely they would have claimed detailed accurate analysis and constructive feedback, rural landholders are used to their integrity, and the odd sighting of flying pigs.
Mal Content
20/02/2016 5:22:04 AM

Let them "withdraw". They are unelected, unrepresentative and have no more standing than any other club or group. They might as well be the CWA or Scouts or the local Cricket Team for all the influence they should be allowed to exert. They are less useful than the aforementioned groups which seek to build, not destroy ; to contribute , not to take; to produce, not to restrict. All funding from the public purse should be withdrawn from these activists and they need to get a job..... ringbarking perhaps?

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