Independent NSW MLC Justin Field has expressed dismay at the Berejiklian Government’s decision to allow 25 metres of land clearing around rural property boundaries, in response to the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, despite it not being a recommendation in the inquiry report.
Mr Field said, “Clearing these boundaries was not a recommendation of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry. This is an anti-science ideological response from the National Party and some in the Liberal Party who are taking advantage of the bushfire crisis to push their agenda to clear more land.
“Premier Berejiklian must make clear what protections will be in place for Koala habitat, rainforest and old growth forest on private land - right now it looks like it is a free for all for property developers and landholders to clear their land. The Premier must tell landholders to put the bulldozers away until proper prescriptions are in place.
“By making this decision Premier Berejiklian is leaving NSW exposed to more fire risk as it takes away from the recommendations in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry Report and the resourcing of those recommendations.
“This is 100 times worse than the decision in the same Cabinet meeting to waterdown the Koala SEPP and a much worse example of the Coalition Government’s anti-environment agenda being pushed by the Nationals.
“Make no mistake about it, the Government’s decision will see more deforestation across the state and a further loss of Koala habitat.
“Any protection in the now weakened Koala SEPP will now potentially be undermined by the ability of private landholders to clear Koala habitat under the guise of bushfire protection.
“It is astonishing that before the Government has explained how they will implement the 76 considered and detailed recommendations in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry Report, that they have announced this additional response which wasn’t recommended at all and could have massive ecological impacts and even increase fire risks.
“We’re going to see vegetation being bulldozed, chopped down, piled up and likely burnt across the state as a result of this decision. This will fragment bushland, lead to a further drying out of the landscape that may increase bushfire risks.
“The inquiry report was clear that more research was needed into “...hazard reduction techniques to understand better the cost versus benefit and effectiveness of different practices in various circumstances…(recommendation 21)”
“The Government has ignored that recommendation and has allowed this push from the Nationals and some in the Liberal Party who are using the bushfire crisis to open up a massive new land clearing regime.
“This decision risks pitting neighbour against neighbour and will put pressure on public landholders to do the same risking the loss of massive areas of vegetation. It sends the wrong signal about what is needed to manage fire risk and build resilience in our communities and in the landscape.
“The Nationals are obsessed with making nature the enemy and are using the bushfire response to push their agenda to clear more land across all tenures. It is backwards thinking that leaves communities and the environment badly exposed to increasing risks of fire and climate impacts.