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Tree logs lying in a pile after being cut down in a forest.

State Government weakening environment protections by sidelining councils

Local Government NSW has slammed the State Government’s latest attempts to strip councils of the ability to regulate private logging.

In a repeat of the infamous “Koala Wars” of 2020, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Private Native Forestry) Bill 2022 attempts to weaken a series of environmental protections around private forestry operations.

Those protections include the removal of councils as a consent authority for private logging activity.

The Bill would also extend the lifespan of forestry approvals from 15 to 30 years, which risks establishing legacy native forestry approvals stretching to 2052 and beyond.

LGNSW President Darriea Turley said that, despite the Bill’s damaging implications, it had been rushed into parliament without any consultation with local government.

“This Bill undermines the crucial role councils play in the regulation of private forestry operations,” Cr Turley said.

“It will have devastating impacts on important native habitats, particularly for koalas and many of the state’s other threatened species.

“In addition, it removes the ability of councils to consider the broader impacts of forestry operations on their communities, such as noise, traffic, amenity and infrastructure impacts.

“This also includes the impact private logging has on a road network that is on the verge of collapse after devastating floods this year.

“Councils need to know where forestry is being approved in relation to other planning approvals to ensure impacts on the community are minimised.

“It’s ridiculous to suggest forestry operations should have fewer safeguards to protect native vegetation and the community than any other kind of industry on the same land.”

LGNSW has now written to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition Leader Chris Minns calling on both leaders to prevent its passage through Parliament.

“Has this government not learnt anything from the disastrous Koala Wars that almost ripped the Coalition apart?” Cr Turley said.

“This Bill shows a blatant disregard for the essential voice of democratically elected councils and the communities they represent, all to appease a small handful of vested interest groups.

“I call on all State MPs to oppose this Bill and ensure councils continue to have appropriate oversight over forestry activities to not only safeguard their communities but also native habitats.”