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Controversial new land clearing laws in NSW

The NSW Government has called for consultation on its new legislation that includes a new land management framework under the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act). It’s official aim is to efficiently allow farmers to undertake ‘legitimate’ land clearing and improve agricultural productivity. Underpinning the framework is the new Native Vegetation Regulatory Map. For native vegetation clearing, land is mapped as exempt, regulated or excluded.

The NSW Government plans to abolish to 2003 Native Vegetation Act and replace it with the Biodiversity Conservation Act. This involves a major projects offsets policy and will provide guidance to applicants about how to avoid and minimise biodiversity impacts before offsetting any remaining impacts.

The draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill proposes a way to identify and protect threatened plants and species that align with the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel’s recommendations (PDF, 1.4MB)

Members of the public are invited to submit their feedback on the proposed biodiversity conservation reform package.
Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill (PDF, 755KB)
Draft Local Land Services Amendment Bill (PDF, 394KB)

You can make a submission online  or write to:
Biodiversity Reforms – Have Your Say
PO Box A290
Sydney South
NSW 1232

The public consultation period ends on 28 June 2016 at 5pm.

Environmentalists are not happy with the proposed legislation, seeing it as a weakening of existing laws with respect to conservation of threatened species. They are also concerned that relaxation of land clearing rules may see a repeat of what happened in Queensland where, in the year following changes to its land clearing laws in 2013, 300,000 hectares of native woodlands were cleared in the state. This released 36 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, more than six per cent of Australia’s entire emissions.

Offset policies are also often criticized as greenwash to allow development in sensitive areas.

An ecologist, John Benson, writing in the Age on 24 February, describes what he sees as the problems with the new legislation. Read ‘The problem with NSW’s Biodiversity Act

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