Kiama meeting to tackle government environmental changes

Gerroa Environment Protection Society (GEPS)  secretary Howard H Jones.

Gerroa Environment Protection Society (GEPS) secretary Howard H Jones.

A MEETING to discuss moves to allow development in biologically sensitive areas will be held in Kiama in early February.

Peak NSW environmental organisations, Total Environment Centre and Nature Conservation Council of NSW, along with the Gerroa Environment Protection Society (GEPS) and Shoalhaven branch of the Australian Conservation Foundation will host the meeting focussing on the NSW government’s winding back of Environmental Protection Legislation.

GEPS secretary Howard Jones said it was a chance for residents to find out more about the attack on environmental laws and what it could mean locally.

“On the eve of the last election Premier Baird announced he would adopt all 43 of the recommendations of the Biodiversity Legislation Review Report, which recommends scrapping the Native Vegetation Act, the Threatened Species Conservation Act and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Acts and replacing them with a more deregulated, risk-based biodiversity management approach that shifts some of the costs of biodiversity conservation from the developer to the taxpayer,” Mr Jones said.

“The report was all about enabling development in biologically sensitive areas, not protection of our dwindling biodiversity.

“It even acknowledges that some of its proposals could lead to loss of biodiversity.

“These changes could herald the beginning of the biggest assault on environmental protection laws undertaken in this state and may make it easier to clear native vegetation and destroy threatened and endangered species and communities.”

Mr Jones said there were some highly vulnerable, unique natural ecosystems in the region.

“Kiama’s Illawarra Brush is the largest subtropical rainforests in South Eastern Australia,” he said.

“Seven Mile Beach has one of the state’s most complex associations of Endangered Ecological Communities and Coomonderry Swamp, behind Seven Mile Beach is the largest coastal freshwater wetland in NSW.

“There are also special biodiverse areas south of the Shoalhaven River, such as at Culburra and Yerriyong that could have efforts to protect them compromised if our biodiversity laws are weakened. “These rare, iconic environments are under constant threat from agriculture, development and mining and weaker environmental laws will make it easier to diminish their values.”

The public information session will be on Thursday,  February 4 from 6:30 at the CWA Hall, 70 Shoalhaven Street, Kiama.

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