Biodiversity Law: Overwhelming opposition to proposals

Local green groups and the Nature Conservation Council is calling on the Baird government to abandon plans to loosen land clearing controls after the government’s own analysis of public submissions revealed overwhelming opposition to its legislative package.

The government’s analysis found that at least 5,350 of the 7,166 submissions to the draft legislation were made by supporters of the Stand Up For Nature Alliance, which opposes to government’s plans to scrap the Threatened Species Conservation Act and Native Vegetation Act. 

Conservation groups, wildlife groups, scientific bodies and researchers made a further 175 submissions expressing a range of concerns, including the likelihood that the proposals would increase extinction pressure on threatened species.

“The results of this analysis show the Baird government has no support for loosening land clearing controls and putting our native wildlife under more threat,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said. 

“Premier Baird’s changes come without community support.

“Only 150 of the 7166 submission received were identified as coming from the farming sector, which goes to show these changes are not being made in response to a groundswell of support from the farming community.

“These backwards reforms have been crafted to further the interests of a vocal minority who stand to make money from land clearing.

“The laws the government is proposing will further the short-term interests of big agribusiness and property developers, not the communities and wildlife in regional areas that depend on healthy soils, waterways and bushland for their long-term survival.

“Mr Baird should scrap this flawed package and either fund Local Land Services to make the Native Vegetation Act work as intended, or go back to the drawing board and come up with another way to provide workable, strong protections for nature in NSW.”

Joining Ms Smolski’s call was Greens NSW MP and Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC.

Dr Faruqi said the Greens are calling on the NSW Government to withdraw the legislation and commit to strengthening and better resourcing the current land management regime.

“This submission report really highlights the groundswell of opposition to the Baird Government’s plans to loosen land clearing laws and undermine key biodiversity protections in the state,” she said.

“On almost every aspect of this package there are deep flaws, from expanding biodiversity offsetting, to making the clearing of land easier. It is hard to think how they could have come up with a worse proposal.

“Premier Baird wants to introduce his blueprint for environmental destruction, but the sheer number of submissions opposing his laws show he has one hell of a fight on his hands.

“Clearly there is a long way to go before the deep concerns raised about nearly all aspects of the proposed reforms can be allayed.

“There is no way to address the overwhelming environmental destruction that will occur if this plan goes ahead. The only option the Government has is to withdraw these bills.”

The report can be viewed here

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