FORESTRY CORPORATION MUST PAY FOR ILLEGAL WHIAN WHIAN LOGGING
MEDIA RELEASE 3/1/2016
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is outraged that the Forestry Corporation is refusing to pay fines of $11,000 for bulldozing a road through exclusion areas for Koalas and threatened plants, and that the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will not make them pay.
NEFA is calling on Premier Baird to intervene to provide justice to communities traumatised by the Forestry Corporation's construction of an illegal road under the watch of the EPA and police guard.
For a short video see:
NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said that on the 22 September 2013 on private property at Whian Whian, NEFA found that the Forestry Corporation had marked the route of a proposed road through 8 Koala High Use Trees and over 63 threatened plants and requested that the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issue a Stop Work Order.
"Instead the EPA spent the next two days wandering around the area with the Forestry Corporation and two botanists planning a new route.
"On 25 September 2013, while the community protested, under police guard the Forestry Corporation bulldozed a road through what were required to be 20m exclusions around 2 Koala high use trees and 24 threatened plants, most of which had been identified before the road was bulldozed through*.
"These breaches are of the worst kind because they were intentional breaches of legal requirements. The EPA knew what the Forestry Corporation were about to do and did nothing to stop them", Mr. Pugh said.
"The EPA had a two year window of opportunity from becoming aware of the offences to taking legal action for this deliberate act of environmental vandalism, and then they waited until this time had almost expired on 11 September 2015 before issuing 2 Penalty Notices, each with a $5,500 fine, and an Official Caution.
"The Forestry Corporation stated they intended to vigorously dispute the fines on the grounds that their intent "was discussed with EPA staff on site during the operation".
"Now that the Forestry Corporation is refusing to pay the EPA's token fines, the EPA say they can't make them because the 2 years available for legal action over the offenses has expired.
"There is no justice for the environment or the community.
"The regulatory process is broken and there needs to be an independent inquiry into the EPA's ineffective and inept regulation of both public and private forestry.
"Premier Baird needs to intervene to deliver justice for the local communities who were traumatised by the Forestry Corporation constructing an illegal road, under supervision of the EPA, and police guard. Governments need to lead by example" Mr. Pugh said.
For a short video see: https://vimeo.com/150080059
For NEFA's audit see http://www.nefa.org.au/whian_whian_audit