Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts

Monday, 14 August 2017

More bad news for NSW coastal forests


The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2017:

A draft bill to revamp regulations for native forestry in NSW was slammed as "overly complex" and inequitable, and it failed to address "an inherent conflict of interest" in the oversight of state-owned Forestry Corp.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show the NSW Environment Protection Authority found the government's draft native forestry bill unfairly favoured Forestry Corp by remove licensing requirements for the corporation while maintaining them for landholders or industry seeking private native forestry.

It would also leave the corporation with powers unmatched for a state agency, including its protection from third-party challenges such as from environmental groups. 

"The inherent conflict of interest for a corporation in having a concurrency role for negotiating, revoking or changing the terms of their licence ... and the removal of third party legal rights, exists nowhere else in NSW legislation or regulation," the EPA's leaked assessment made last December shows.

Fairfax Media understands the EPA also sought legal advice on how to restrict "very intense" harvesting that the Forestry Corp had conducted for years in areas such as the blackbutt-dominant forests of the NSW mid-north coast.

The Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) that permitted the logging were, however, found to be poorly worded, curbing the watchdog's ability to take legal action.

Even if it could act, though, the penalties available remain tiny. While other breaches, such as by coal mines, could attract fines of as much as $1 million, most forestry penalties were in the hundreds of dollars.

Many of the sanctions were decades old and although the cabinet had discussed a review of the penalties in 2014 – and agreed on million-dollar fines for forestry impacts on threatened species in late 2015 – it is yet to update them......

Monday, 7 August 2017

Politicians and Water: The Murray Darling Basin Scandal Fallout


The ABC Four Corners program “Pumped” which was screened on 24th July has illustrated how important scrutiny of the establishment is to the rule of law in our democracy. It also illustrates why the ABC is under threat from many politicians and other powerful players who see any effective scrutiny of their operations as an intolerable threat to their way of doing business, a way that is against both the general community interest as well as the national interest.
The outrage from the revelations of water theft and other illegality by big irrigators in the northern NSW area of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) has increased over the days since the program was screened.  Politicians have been left scrambling and forced to change tack following the strength of the reaction and the condemnation of the inadequacy of their initial responses.
In NSW the Nationals Minister for Primary Industry, Niall Blair, was forced to change from an internal inquiry conducted by his department to an independent inquiry.  Blair was excessively optimistic in thinking that such an internal inquiry would be acceptable given that Four Corners had revealed a questionable relationship between Gavin Hanlon[1], his department’s Deputy Director General (Water), and big irrigators in the upper MDB.  In addition there was the important question of why the department had failed to act on departmental compliance officers’ reports of licence breaches and meter tampering. And there were questions about the role of the former water minister Kevin Humphries in dealing with the large irrigators.
The NSW Opposition has also taken action referring both the former Nationals water minister Kevin Humphries (Member for Barwon) and a senior bureaucrat (presumably Gavin Hanlon) to ICAC.
The Federal Government reaction was initially almost dismissive.  The Minister for Water Resources, Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce[2], as well as attempting to downplay the water theft by comparing it to cattle rustling, claimed that it was a matter for NSW and that there was no need for Federal Government involvement. Billions of dollars of taxpayer funds have been used to buy back water for environmental flows and instead of being used for this purpose this water has gone to the big irrigators in the upper Barwon-Darling.  Presumably the taxpayer funds had come from the Federal Government. This would surely make it a matter of very great interest to this government which, seeing it is so concerned about budget repair, would surely be appalled at the waste of billions of taxpayer dollars.
Joyce’s totally inadequate initial response was compounded shortly afterwards with what he said in a speech to irrigators in a hotel at Shepparton, a speech which was recorded by one of those attending.
Joyce said, "We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don't have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask.”
"A couple of nights ago on Four Corners, you know what that's all about? It's about them trying to take more water off you, trying to create a calamity. A calamity for which the solution is to take more water off you, shut more of your towns down."
Even a dinosaur like Barnaby Joyce should have been aware that anyone carrying a smartphone has the capacity to secretly record what others are saying.  In the political sphere we have seen how damaging this can be in the cases of Christopher Pyne and One Nation’s James Ashby. The Shepparton recording has certainly damaged Joyce and has added volume to the calls for him to be sacked from the Water portfolio.  Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as the Prime Minister has enough problems in his own party without alienating Joyce and the Nationals.
By Sunday 30th the scandal became a matter that the Federal Government had to act upon despite Joyce’s earlier labelling it a state matter. The Federal solution was for the Murray Darling Basin Authority to carry out an independent basin-wide review into compliance with state-based regulations governing water use. The Authority is to report by 15th December 2017.  The Government saw this review as complementing the other investigations of the Four Corners allegations.
However, this is a case of far too little too late.  The MDB Authority is scarcely a body able to conduct an independent review of what has obviously been happening under its watch.  Furthermore a cynic would see the reporting date of 15th December, just before the Christmas holiday season, as a typical government move to ensure that the review report would receive minimal attention and be forgotten about over the holiday break.
The Federal Opposition, like its NSW state counterpart, has also taken action on the scandal.  It requested that the Auditor-General expand his current audit of the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.  The Auditor-General will now include how the federal department is monitoring the performance of NSW under the National Partnership Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the MDB relevant to the protection and use of environmental water.
Unsurprisingly, the South Australian Government, which has long been concerned about the lack of water reaching the end of the Murray-Darling system, was outraged by the allegations.  It is calling for a judicial inquiry, a much stronger investigation than those arranged by NSW and the Federal Government.  SA senators from Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Party and the Conservatives have joined their state government in calling for a judicial inquiry.
This scandal has a long way to run yet.  There are major questions to be answered about the National Party – both state and federally - and its relationship with the big irrigators and its apparent indifference to the needs of other irrigators further down the system.  There is also the question of its influence on the workings of the NSW Department of Agriculture.   And just what role has it had in limiting the effectiveness of – perhaps even of sabotaging - the Murray Darling Basin Plan?
For both Federal and NSW state Liberal leaders there is the question about the advisability of having resource management portfolios in the hands of Nationals and of putting both Agriculture and Water in the same portfolio.  Each of these governments has a very poor environmental record.  What has been happening on the Barwon-Darling reinforces the view that keeping “in good” with the Nationals is far more important for the  Liberals than ensuring that environmental policies are in the best long-term interests of the state and nation.
[1] Gavin Hanlon joined the NSW Department of Primary Industries in December 2014.  Prior to this he had been Managing Director of Goulburn Murray Water since 2011.
[2] The water portfolio was removed from the Environment Department and allocated to Joyce as a result of the agreement with the Liberals in 2015  following  Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minister.

Hildegard
Northern Rivers
2nd August 2017

Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email northcoastvoices at gmail dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Environment Victoria calls on Andrews Government to challenge NSW Berejiklian Government's "rigging" of Murray-Darling Basin Plan river water extraction rules


Environment Victoria, Media Release, Tuesday 25 July 2017:

Calls for Victoria to stand up to NSW water guzzlers

Environmental groups, farmers and Indigenous leaders today called on the Andrews government to respond urgently to claims on ABC’s Four Corners that New South Wales irrigators are engaging in “illegal water use” at the expense of Victoria’s rivers and farmers.

Environment Victoria Acting CEO Dr Nicholas Aberle said:

“Victoria is being cheated out of water and the Victorian government needs to stand up to these greedy cotton growers who are guzzling billions of litres meant to flow downstream for our environment.

“Victorians deserve to know exactly how much water has been lost and how this will affect Victoria’s water supplies and the health of our rivers.

Below: Map showing how alleged illegal water use upstream in NSW affects Victoria


“The worst part is the New South Wales government has been rigging the rules to let these big irrigators get away with it. This shows utter contempt for the health of Australia’s rivers – an attitude that has no place in a government that shares responsibility for delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” said Dr Aberle.

Last night’s Four Corners program exposed major issues in the NSW water industry, including claims of illegal water use and tampering with water meters.

“The actions of the NSW government are leaving downstream users and the environment quite literally hanging out to dry. This means there’s less water for Victoria’s farmers, communities and our precious rivers and wetlands.

“We need the Victorian government to take a leadership role in fixing this mess and to make sure this never happens again. The whole plan relies on accurate measurement, tracking and compliance. Based on the revelations last night, it seems clear we can’t rely on big upstream irrigators just to do the right thing.”

Environment Victoria, together with the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and the Environmental Farmers Network, has written to Victoria’s Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, asking her to:
 
Launch a full investigation into how much water has been lost by changes to water sharing rules in NSW since 2012, and how much damage this has done to Victoria and South Australia.

Implement the Basin Plan in full so all its objectives are met, including finding smart ways to recover the remaining 450 gigalitres (GL) of water to protect Victoria’s rivers and wetlands.

Lead the development of Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council protocols on water integrity to make sure this type of rule manipulation in favour of vested interests never happens again.

“Governments across Australia urgently need to re-establish trust in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the environmental restoration it is designed to achieve. Victoria can and must play an important role in leading this process,” said Dr Aberle.

This call was supported by Rene Woods, Chair, Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations & John Pettigrew, Water Spokesperson, Environmental Farmers Network.

And so the spotlight hovers over Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair......


When both the NSW Coalition Government (2 April 2015) and Federal Coalition Government (21 September 2015) gave a minister dual responsibility for agriculture and water one could almost hear the political train careening wildly in the distance.

Unfortunately two years later the people of Australia woke to discover that handing over responsibility for water in a complex major river system to two National Party MPs meant it was also a social, economic and environmental train wreck as well.

All the audits and investigations in the world will not unmake the disaster that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has become under Barnaby Joyce and Niall Blair unless the political will is there, however this is a good start.

"The Auditor-General will investigate how Barnaby Joyce's Dept is monitoring use of environmental water by NSW." [@Tony_Burke]

In an effort to wrest back control of the situation Prime Minister Turnbull has reportedly 
ordered the Murray Darling Basin Authority to conduct an allegedly ndependent basin-wide review into compliance with state-based regulations governing water use. The review report will be presented to the December 2017 Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting.

Monday, 17 July 2017

'The Force' is strong on the Liverpool Plains



People power at work on the NSW Liverpool Plains -  well done to everyone over the years who attended protest events, emailed, wrote, phoned. posted, tweeted and/or made formal submissions objecting to Shenhua’s mining expansion plans.


Shenhua says it still plans to progress the Watermark coal mine in light of the NSW government $262m buy back of half its exploration licence.

Shenhua Australia Chairman Liu Xiang said the planning for the mine would continue on the remaining section of the licence “in line with the planning approvals” from both the state and federal governments.

The NSW government said despite the agreement, Shenhua's expired exploration licence had yet to be renewed.

“An application to amend the current renewal application to remove the relinquished area has been received,” a Department of Planning and Environment spokesman said.

“The relinquished area will be removed from the title and the consideration of the renewal application for the remainder of the licence will be considered as per normal procedures and in accordance with the Act.”

In a statement to The Leader, Shenhua expressed its “disappointment” regarding the NSW government’s stance on mining operations on black soil plains, “as it would prevent its efforts” to get its exploration licence “wholly renewed”.

While Shenhua believes it “would have been able to responsibly expand its existing Watermark Coal Mine”, it has “come to terms with the NSW Government’s decision to not allow any mining on the black soil plains”.


However, the fight continues…….


Liberal Member of the NSW Legislative Council, Don Harwin
Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts, Vice-President of the Executive Council
Phone
(02) 8574 7200
Fax
(02) 9339 5568
Email



ABC News, 12 July 2017:

National co-ordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance Phil Laird said anything less than the full cancellation of the project would not protect the farming systems.

"If we are going to hand over our best farming country to a coal mine that's owned by the Chinese Government, we've got to change our priorities," Mr Laird said.

"This coal mine is going to be 200 metres deep and its going to cut below the ridge line way below the level of the farm land and the aquifers.

"The impacts to those aquifers is unknown and the entire region depends on those aquifers for survival."


CSEC - CHINA SHENHUA ENERGY COMPANY LTD.
12/07/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/07/2017 19:28

Voluntary Announcement- Announcement On Progress Of The Wate...

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited takes no responsibility for the contents of this announcement, makes no representation as to its accuracy or completeness and expressly disclaims any liability whatsoever for any loss howsoever arising from or in reliance upon the whole or any part of the contents of this announcement.
(a joint stock limited company incorporated in the People's Republic of China with limited liability)

(STOCK CODE: 01088)
VOLUNTARY ANNOUNCEMENT
ANNOUNCEMENT ON PROGRESS OF THE WATERMARK PROJECT

This announcement is made by China Shenhua Energy Company Limited (the "Company") on a voluntary basis. The purpose of this announcement is to keep the Shareholders and potential investors of the Company informed of the latest business development of the Group.

On 20 November 2008, the Company issued the Announcement in relation to Watermark Exploration Area Exploration License. Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Limited ("Watermark Pty"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, entered into Exploration License with the state government of New South Wales, Australia (the "NSW Government"), pursuant to which Watermark Pty paid for the exploration license at a consideration of AUD299,900,000 and obtained the Watermark exploration area of approximately 195 square kilometers in aggregate.

On 29 June 2017, Watermark Pty reached an agreement with the NSW Government in relation to partial extension of the exploration license. Pursuant to the established policies of protection of agricultural activities on the black soil plains, the NSW Government withdrew the exploration license of approximately 100 square kilometres within Watermark exploration area and provided Watermark Pty with economic compensation amounting to AUD261,800,000, and accepted the application for the partial extension of the exploration license of non-black soil plains in Watermark exploration area. According to the agreement upon tendering in 2008, if the mining license of Watermark Pty is approved, then an additional AUD200,000,000 shall be paid to the NSW Government.

There are three planning open-cut mining areas, which are situated within the area of non-black soil plains, for the Watermark Pty Open-cut Coal Mine Project with recoverable reserves of approximately 290 million tonnes (JORC Standards), total designed raw coal production capacity of 10 million tonnes/year and designed service life of 24 years. The total investment amount of the project was approximately AUD1,470,000,000, among which 40% was contributed by Watermark Pty and 60% was financed by way of bank borrowings.

Up to now, the approval from the National Development and Reform Commission of the PRC, the approval for the environmental impact assessment from the Australian Federal Government and the approval from the Planning and Assessment Commission of the NSW Government have been obtained for the Open-cut Coal Mine Project. The environmental protection certification and mining rights license from the NSW Government will be applied for.

Watermark Pty will comply with the requirements of laws in Australia to promote the approval and construction of the Open-cut Coal Mine Project.

SHAREHOLDERS OF THE COMPANY AND POTENTIAL INVESTORS ARE ADVISED TO PAY ATTENTION TO INVESTMENT RISKS AND EXERCISE IN CAUTION WHEN DEALING IN THE SHARES OF THE COMPANY.

By Order of the Board
CHINA SHENHUA ENERGY COMPANY LIMITED HUANG QING
Secretary of the Board of Directors

Beijing, 12 July 2017

As at the date of this announcement, the Board comprises the following: Dr. Ling Wen, Dr. Han Jianguo and Dr. Li Dong as executive directors, Mr. Zhao Jibin as non- executive director, and Dr. Tam Wai Chu, Maria, Dr. Jiang Bo and Ms. Zhong Yingjie, Christina as independent non-executive directors.

It should be noted that the Shenhua Group has been named as one of the top 100 global fossil fuel companies collectively resposible for 72% of all global industrial Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Instead of addressing the root causes of homelessness in NSW the Berejiklian Government allows this to occur


It doesn’t matter what political stripe the NSW government of the day is - the issue of homelessness is rarely addressed in a positive fashion.

One only has to consult the National Library of Australia and Trove digital newspaper records to see that homelessness and Sydney have gone hand in hand since the city was established. As has the threat of violence towards those without a roof over their heads.

In February1890 a physical count of homeless people sleeping rough in the city occurred and 127 year later a count still occurs.

In February 1890 the count stood at 472 rough sleepers and by February 2017 the homeless count on the night was 433 rough sleepers, with another 489 people in crisis/temporary accommodation* and 28 people of no fixed address in hospital.

In the last fifty years to date in Sydney, the usual first response considered when the number of homeless people become highly visible is to force these people out of the inner city area to become the problem of other suburbs and different councils.

These clearances often only come to the notice of the general public during the lead up to high profile events such as state visits or when Sydney hosted the Olympics in 2000.

This time it was the turn of the Berejiklian Coalition Government and The City of Sydney Council to attempt to scatter the homeless from the inner-city by using NSW Police as their all too willing pit bulls.

Note the swift jabs by the male police officer at about 0:06-0:07 mins into this video

Facebook:
Now if this sweep of Sydney streets runs true to form an official spokesperson will say that the homeless have been offered alternative accommodation and many have refused.

This is officialese for handing out the contact details of overworked and under-resourced homeless services. 

The most easily accessible being the night refuges which are frequently only marginally safer than sleeping rough for the most vulnerable of those on the streets and which can offer little more than temporary night accommodation on a first-come-first-served basis. 
While other crisis/temporary accommodation offered through Dept of Housing/FaCS can be for as little as 2-5 days in a budget motel, caravan park or similar.

The current waiting list for permanent social housing in the Sydney metropolitan area is generally between 5 to 10+ years.

Well done, Sydney! Home to a heavy-handed, often violent police force, a city administration without a heart and a cruelly indifferent state government.

Note

There were 16 crisis accommodation hostels with a minimum of 414 beds operating in the City of Sydney local government area in February 2017.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Are Berejiklian & Co attempting to pull an environmental sleight of hand on NSW communities who value their green and biodiverse landscapes?


On  23 November 2016 the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (repealing the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and the animal and plant provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974) became law.

On the same day the NSW Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 (repealing the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and amending the Local Land Services Act 2013 in relation to native vegetation land management in rural areas) also became law.

Currently the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has these documents on exhibition:
Regulations and other key products to support the Government's new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016, are on exhibition for six weeks from 10 May until 21 June.
Facts sheets and guides that provide detailed information on key topic areas are also available to assist you in making a submission.
Loud warning bells should be ringing in all ears – not least because the draft regulation document State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017 is nowhere to be found.
Instead there is a slick 22-page Explanation of Intended Effect booklet (highlighted in red) which is not worth the paper it is printed on at this point in time.

Why the Berejiklian Government assumes that it is best practice to place major policy change on exhibition with a crucial SEPP not yet drafted is unexplained.

Nor is there any indication as to why this as yet unformed vegetation SEPP is to be signed into government regulation in eleven weeks' time without voters having the opportunity to assess and comment on its precise provisions and wording. 

One has to suspect that the reason for such sleight of hand is that State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017 will contain a workaround for property developers to clear environmentally valuable native vegetation using the new permit system long before land comes before a council for consideration as the subject of a development application.

As the Explanation of Intended Effect now stands it appears that local government will have less control over clearing of native vegetation than it had in the past.
The Better Planning Network (BPN), a state-wide not for profit grassroots volunteer-based organisation, has also highlighted the following issues:

The detailed map of land classified as 'Environmentally Sensitive' is not publicly available.

- The map of Category 1 and Category 2 rural land (ie- land that can be cleared under self-assessable codes or otherwise) is not publicly available.

- The mapping of core koala habitat across NSW has not been completed (we are aware of only 5 NSW Councils that have identified core koala habitat under SEPP 44 Koala Habitat Protection.)

- The details of the Biodiversity Offsets Calculator are not publicly available.
It is impossible for the public to provide accurate feedback on the draft Regulations, Codes and SEPP without access to the above elements.  It is also irresponsible and risky for the Government to operationalise its legislation and regulations before these elements have been finalised. ​

On this basis, we urge you to contact the NSW Premier and the responsible Ministers (UptonRoberts and Blair) to ask them to: 
- ​Extend the public exhibition of all Regulations and Codes under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2017, as well as the Vegetation SEPP, until the components listed above are made publicly available.

​- ​Ensure that operation of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2017 does not commence until all relevant mapping, included that listed above, has been completed and reviewed for accuracy by key stakeholders.

An analysis of the draft Regulations, Codes and SEPP has been provided though the Stand Up For Nature Submission Guide. We are preparing our own draft submission which we will circulate to you as soon as possible. However, accurate comment on the full package is not possible until all of the components listed above are made publicly available.

The Environmental Defenders Office NSW (EDO) uploaded this video which walks through the documents on exhibition:



EDO 1 June 2017 seminar slides can be found here. Included in these slides is some advice on what to cover in submissions.

According to the EDO "There are some serious weaknesses" in these draft documents which are intended to become operational on 25 August 2017.

These include:

* Repeal of Native Vegetation Act and environmental standards that go with it, replaced with Codes
* Heavy reliance on flexible and indirect biodiversity offsets – weaker standards in the BAM and for biocertification
* Conservation gains aren't guaranteed in law, but dependent on funding decisions
* There is significant discretion for decision-makers
* Significant risk of policy failure

Locally one can add to this list the fact that Clarence Valley Council has stated:

A review of the draft Sensitive Biodiversity Values Land Map released by OEH reveals that it is missing areas of the Clarence Valley LGA which are known to contain habitat for threatened and critically endangered species or significant biodiversity value (for example core koala habitat identified in the Ashby-Woombah-Iluka koala plan of management, as well as significant areas of littoral rainforest and coastal wetlands).

Concerned residents can have their say until 21 June 2017 by:

Or writing to the Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms Office,
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232

NOTE

At least one local government, Clarence Valley Council, has requested an extension of time to make a submission on these reforms and to date this formal request has been met with deafening silence.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

In North-East NSW 'a "reduced survey effort" and the dropping of a longstanding rule applying 20 metre buffers to "high-use" areas' is being proposed. How much more can a koala bear?


PHOTO: Australia Zoo in The Age

The Forestry Corporation of NSW (originally the Forestry Commission formed by an act of the NSW Parliament) is the largest manager of commercial native and plantation forests in New South Wales.

Not content with revenue of $339 million and underlying profit after tax of $36 million in 2015-16 (latest annual report) it wants to increase its harvesting range and is coming after quality koala habitat on the NSW North Coast.

ABC News, 3 June 2017:

Many of Australia's most iconic marsupials will lose protection from logging bulldozers, under a radical overhaul proposed in secret Forestry Corporation documents.

The documents, obtained by the ABC, propose the elimination of long-standing threatened species protections, such as site-survey rules, in many NSW state forests.

Intense clearing in northern regions, and increased access to protected stream-banks across the state are other major changes.

Environmentalists say if current rules are trashed, protected marsupials including koalas, wombats, quolls, and gliders will be stealthily eliminated.

"If you don't look, you don't find and if you don't find you don't protect," said conservationist Dailan Pugh, from the North-East Forest Alliance.

The conditions are part of new forestry agreements — known as Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IOFA) — and cover four major operational areas across the state. Final details are expected to be announced later this year.

Wombats, quolls, koalas face loss of exclusion zones


Many iconic marsupials face additional changes in the draft proposals.

The highly endangered spotted-tail quoll faces a 70 per cent reduction of no-logging zones around breeding dens — reduced from 12 hectares to 3.5 hectares.

Wombats, another protected species, are geographically protected by a line north of the Oxley Highway, requiring a 20 metre logging exclusion zone around burrows.

But Forestry Corporation negotiators want to redraw that protective line further north to Waterfall Way — eliminating the 20 metre exclusion in a vast logging zone between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

Mr Pugh said that would lead to "more wombats being buried alive, as their burrows are collapsed by machinery and falling trees".

He said environmental regulators, such as the EPA, should address declining wombat numbers by expanding current protections state-wide.

For koalas in north-east NSW, Forestry Corporation proposes a "reduced survey effort" and the dropping of a longstanding rule applying 20 metre buffers to "high-use" areas.

It says future protections are "to be developed" utilising new models to retain habitat.

Cost savings if animal surveys dropped

Currently, prior to harvest, logging companies must survey for 87 vulnerable animals, many already facing threat of extinction.

Where an animal habitat is found, operators then implement site protections such as exclusion zones before logging is approved……


The author cites "significant cost saving" as a benefit of making the change.

But former Forestry scientist Robert Kooyman worried relaxing the rules around surveys would harm up to 49 animal species.

"Forest management requires that you know what it is you are managing," he said.

"While historic records provide an indication of habitat use, they are inevitably incomplete, do not reflect the dynamics of forests, and many animal species are highly mobile within their range and habitats, and follow resources."……

Monday, 5 June 2017

NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has decided that a new group will be added to those already receiving under-the-table largesse from corrupt developers


If the investigative history of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since its inception in 1988 (as well as the existence of the Pecuniary Interest & Disciplinary Tribunal) wasn’t proof enough that everyone from ministers of the Crown, members of parliament, judicial officers, public servants, local government councillors and council administrative staff, are capable of being corrupted by rapacious developers, the Berejiklian Coalition Government has decided to increase the field for the convenience of their bagmen by adding yet another layer to the development consent process.


Councils are set to be stripped of the power to determine development applications above a certain value in a governance shake-up that will mandate the use of independent planning panels across most of NSW….

Draft changes to the Planning Act released by then planning minister Rob Stokes in January proposed empowering the minister to order a council to use an independent panel for development applications in certain circumstances…..

it is understood new Planning Minister Anthony Roberts believes that mandating Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) is an important probity measure.

The panels, which are optional at present, are used by large councils, including Parramatta and Liverpool.

Fairfax Media understands Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Mr Roberts are considering the change alongside a suite of housing affordability measures to go to cabinet this week.

The final shape of the independent panels has yet to be decided but it is likely they would operate in a similar fashion to the existing IHAPs.

Monday, 24 April 2017

NSW Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts pressuring Byron Shire Council on behalf of millionaire developer


The Northern Star, 20 April 2017:

BYRON Shire Councillor Cate Coorey has reacted angrily to a letter received by council from NSW Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts, pushing council to make a Draft Control Plan for the West Byron site that she and a number of other councillors see as flawed.

At a meeting on November 17 last year, council resolved "that subject to peer reviews of frog, koala, traffic, and water and flood management reports, council (should) approve the Byron Shire Development Control Plan 2014".

Instead, the Planning Minister is pushing council to make the DCP without the reports…..                                                                                                                                                                      
"The minister that approved this rezoning never came to Byron and does not understand the site.

"Now this new Planning Minister is doing the same. The State Government ignores what the people of Byron want."

"The previous council did nothing with this DCP - they were happy to accept the one put forward by the developers, which took no account of the major issues with the site - koalas, endangered frog habitat, acid sulfate soils, flooding and traffic.

"This council is trying to address these serious issues and we are being bullied by the minister, who is threatening to make the DCP himself if we don't submit the inadequate one that we were trying to amend.

"Minister's letter to us says - the proposed amendments, if pursued, would likely result in significant land-forming works and clearing to enable drainage, and a loss of dwelling yield across the site.

"Drainage on West Byron is fundamental to the site……

According to a 20 April 2017 newsletter from the Saddle Ridge Community Action Group

Today was a terrific day at the Byron Shire Council meeting.

Four substantial motions that went against staff recommendations.

1.  A motion to return public lands in Brunswick Heads to the community from North Coast Holiday Parks and a restriction limiting them from expanding into the Cypress Pine WW1 memorial grove.  We now have to wait if North Coast Holiday parks will challenge this legally.

2. A motion blocking any attempt to allow heliport operations at Tyagarah airfield and a further motion raising a number of significant issues that need to be addressed before any further expansion and intensification of the airfield goes ahead.

3.  A final attempt by council to write to the Minister seeking peer review of certain elements of the West Byron DCP before it is signed off by the Minister.

4.  The re-exhibition of the Byron Rural Land Use Strategy for a further 28 days with a report to be brought to council before it is again sent back to the Minister.

[my yellow highlighting]

BACKGROUND

The Northern Star, 5 June 2014:

A QUEENSLAND property developer is understood to have bought a major share of the controversial West Byron development.
The Byron Residents' Group, which opposes the development, described the new landowner, property developer Terry Agnew, as "a big player in the Sydney CBD property market" who is about to start building a major resort development on Great Keppel Island.
"We have always been concerned that the West Byron landowners were simply trying to get the development approved before selling out to a developer who could afford to undertake a project of this size," Cate Coorey of Byron Residents' Group said.
"For a long time we have been told that it is local people involved in this development and they have the community's best interests at heart. Now that a major developer has bought this parcel, it changes the landscape quite a bit."

The Northern Star, 5 May 2015:

IT WAS claimed that the West Byron development would alleviate housing distress and make housing more affordable.

But the Byron Residents' Group says recent media reports show this claim to be bogus.

Spokesperson Cate Coorey says the truth about the planned development, a 108 hectare housing/commercial estate opposite the industrial estate on Ewingsdale Road, has started to emerge with reports saying the major landowners are "planning to develop about 500 houses on 600sqm lots to be priced from $850,000 on a 70ha site."

"I doubt many people who are looking to buy "affordable" homes would be considering $850,000 plus price tags," she said.

The reference to the price of the planned homes was in a report in the Weekend Australian.

Echo NetDaily, 21 September 2015:

A major player in the controversial West Byron development appears to be pulling the plug on his holding just days before the council’s Development Control Plan (DCP) for the subdivision is due to go on exhibition.
Prominent Sydney CBD property developer Terry Agnew bought a sizeable portion of the project early last year from failed local property company Crighton.

He now looks set to make millions of dollars in profit just for sitting on the land for a matter of months.

Mr Agnew’s company Tower Holdings has refused to comment on the issue but a sizeable advertisement appeared in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald, with a bird’s-eye view of the land for sale, which appears to be his holding.

In May this year Mr Agnew was spruiking the high prices of Byron land and this is echoed in the ad, which reads ‘Byron Bay median house price is now $966,000.’

The ad says the parcel potentially contains allotments for ‘300-450 dwellings’

The Australian, 10 September 2016:
Property developer and Great Keppel Island owner Terry Agnew’s mansion Rona, fronting Fairfax Road, Bellevue Hill, will soon hit the market through Laing & Simmons agent Bart Doff, as revealed in The Australian earlier this week. Doff says the property is a “beautifully renovated six-bedroom mansion with Opera House and Harbour Bridge views as well as uninterrupted views north to Manly”. Agnew is decamping further north to his Wategos Beach mansion in scenic Byron Bay. His daughter, a champion rower, is moving to the US to study while Agnew’s son is weeks away from completing his senior schooling — hence the desire to downsize.

The Australian,  7 September 2016:

 Rona, one of the ­nation’s grandest estates, will hit the market officially with hopes of $65 million.
Rona’s vendor, property developer Terry Agnew, paid $20.5m for the 45-room estate at 49-51 Fairfax Road, Bellevue Hill, in January 2005.

Echo NetDaily, 12 April 2017:

A planning ‘instrument’ that gives the community and councillors a say on one of the largest Byron Bay suburbs in a generation has been circumvented by Gold Coast developer Villa World Ltd.

Instead, a 290-lot development application (DA) was lodged for around a third of West Byron land last week.

Villa World say they are in a joint venture partnership with Sydney-based developer Terry Agnew, who purchased approximately a third of the 108 hectare lot around two years ago.

The land is located opposite the arts and industry estate on Ewingsdale Road.

Councillors and staff had been working through a revised development control plan (DCP); however, Villa World development manager Peter Johnson told The Echo that owing to a change in NSW premier and planning minister, the company were unsure of a determination timeline and have instead circumvented the DCP.

A DCP is a specific planning ‘instrument’ for the site, and aims to address specifics such as traffic and the endangered koala and frog habitats.