Over 40 people braved the cold to attend the Blue Mountains Conservation Society’s July workshop on Bushland Protection laws and codes. Participants were capably informed on the topic by Environmental Solicitor, Jemilah Hallinan from the Environmental Defenders Office.
Of concern is the apparent secrecy that has been built into the legislation; it is aimed to protect the privacy of those wanting to clear land and to provide little information to other landowners and affected parties even to the point of not allowing them to comment on planned works or to appeal about land clearing decisions. Of great concern is the knowledge that threatened species and communities, apart from those that are critically endangered, now have no protection under the new legislation. Their possible destruction will now be assessed by the Development Application Process.
It is now very difficult for most people to work out exactly what is legal and which government agency should be doing something to stop or prosecute developers and property owners who may be carrying out unlawful activities such as cutting down trees in residential areas or removing large areas of native communities. However it is still worth reporting any activity that may potentially be unlawful to the Blue Mountains City Council and also to the Office of Environment and Heritage, particularly if threatened species or communities appear to be involved.
The basic message for those wishing to take action when you see suspicious bushland removal, whether it is a single tree or broad acreage clearing, is to:
A detailed step by step guide to incident reporting and other actions that you can take will be available on the BMCS website (in the ‘Planning and Development Resource Kit’) in a few weeks. In the meantime fact sheets are available on the Environmental Defenders Office website and there's also a copy of the EDO’s workshop presentation (7MB pdf)
Thank you to Lyndal Sullivan and Phoebe Coster for their excellent organisation of this workshop and to members of the Society who assisted in various ways on the day.