Attempts by Ballina Council to protect koala habitat and other high conservation value vegetation have been blocked by the NSW Government.
The North Coast Environment Council and North East Forest Alliance support Ballina Shire Council’s attempts to provide needed regulation of logging on private land.
“We applaud Ballina Council’s ongoing attempts to protect Koala habitat and other high conservation value vegetation despite the NSW Government’s obstruction” said NCEC President Susie Russell.
“In 2012, when Ballina Council and 4 other councils tried to protect high conservation value vegetation, including Koala habitat, from clearing and logging.by identifying environmental protection zones in their Local Environmental Plans (LEPs), the NSW Government intervened to stop them.
“The ban was meant to last for 6 months while a review was undertaken. It took the Government a year to complete the review which supported the protection of high conservation value vegetation in LEPs.
“It is outrageous that over a year and a half after the review, the NSW Government is still refusing to allow north coast Councils to reinstate their environment zones, while blocking Ballina’s attempts to provide the needed protection in their LEP by an alternative means” Ms Russell said.
NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said that Ballina Council is right not to trust the Environment Protection Authority to protect Koalas or other threatened species.
“In 2013 on a private property at Whian Whian (adjacent to Nightcap National Park) the EPA approved the Forestry Corporation to construct a road through Critically Endangered Lowland Rainforest, and to log in the habitat of 6 threatened animals and 5 threatened plants, including core Koala habitat, without doing anything to protect them.
“NEFA did surveys for threatened species in order to get the legal protection they required, though we were too late for many.
“In September 2013 NEFA found a road marked to be constructed through what should have been 20m exclusion zones for over 60 threatened plants and 8 Koala high use trees, and requested the EPA to impose a Stop Work Order.
“The EPA refused to stop work and instead oversaw the Forestry Corporation’s illegal construction of a different track through what should have been 20m exclusion zones for 3 Koala high use trees and 27 threatened plants.
“We documented all this and provided a detailed complaint to the Government. Over a year and a half later the Government have yet to respond, which is hardly surprising given that the EPA were complicit in illegal logging.
“The EPA have proven time and again that they are just there to facilitate logging and don’t care about the environment that they are meant to protect. Ballina Council is right not to trust them” Mr. Pugh said.
NEFA’s audit of Whian Whian is at http://www.nefa.org.au/whian_whian_audit