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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Environment Protection Authority A Failed Regulator


 The Environment Protection Authority's decision to drop its case against Forests NSW for illegally logging an Endangered Ecological Community in Doubleduke State Forest has led the North East Forest Alliance to identify them as failed regulators who are unwilling to uphold NSW's
environmental laws.
Viewing the original damage in Doubleduke State Forest

NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said that under its previous guise of the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water (DECCW) the EPA have been supposedly investigating a variety of complaints of illegal logging in Doubleduke State Forest west of Evans Head since June 2010.

"In May 2010 the Clarence Environment Centre first complained that logging had extended into an Endangered Ecological Community at Doubleduke State Forest, though DECCW's assessor was unable to find it.

"In June 2010 2 separate assessments by 4 botanists confirmed that  logging had indeed taken place in the Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) Sub-tropical Coastal Floodplain Forest. At one locality 20 trees were found to have been logged within it and numerous other trees and  shrubs bulldozed over.

"DECCW then belatedly started to assess it. NEFA's concerns that they weren't identifying additional areas led them to undertake a further assessment in October 2010 that identified 3 additional incursions into the EEC where an additional 46 trees had been logged and 1,387 other trees and shrubs had been bulldozed out of the ground, trampled by machinery, or had trees dropped on them.

"NEFA calculated that Forest NSW were potentially liable for fines of over $16 million under the National Parks and Wildlife Act where it is an offence to pick or harm endangered ecological communities 

"It wasn't until a year later in October 2011 that DECCW's successor the Office of Environment and Heritage had collected what it considered sufficient expert evidence to commence legal proceedings against Forests NSW for logging 120 trees in 7.5 ha of the EEC Sub-tropical Coastal Floodplain Forest.

"OEH refused NEFA's repeated requests to also pursue numerous other reported breaches on the grounds that they were already proceeding on one breach.

"NEFA was shocked to find out last week that the court case that was meant to start on the 23 July hadn't taken place.The now Environment Protection Authority told us they had decided to drop the case.We will be seeking detailed answers when we meet with them at Lismore on Tuesday.If they won't protect Endangered Ecological Communities who will?

"The EPA are failed regulators.This is the latest in a long list of environmental offences committed by Forests NSW that the EPA have failed to achieve any regulatory outcome on.

"Now that the EPA have no excuse for not proceeding on the other breaches NEFA documented in Doubleduke State Forest we challenge them to take legal action on them, particularly the logging and roading within a wetland that was meant to be protected by a 10 meter buffer, the logging and roading within a population of the endangered fern (Lindsaea incisa) that was meant to be protected by a 50m buffer and the failure to identify and protect Yellow-bellied Glider sap-feed trees."If the NSW Government is unwilling to enforce its own environmental laws then we ask that third-party appeal rights be restored so that we can" Mr. Pugh said.

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