- Protect our land and water from mining.
- Honesty and integrity in politics
- Local jobs
- People before profits
- Improved heath and education services.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Justice and equity for the rural communities of NSW

Dorrigo Plateau
Dorrigo Environment Watch Inc Media Release


We of the
Dorrigo Environment Watch (DEW) are concerned about recent Government budget cuts which jeopardise the existence of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).  The EDO has over the last 30 years provided an essential legal service to rural communities assisting them to keep informed about the many changes in mining and planning law, both at the state and federal level. 

The Environmental Defenders Office in Lismore has delivered this service in an objective, non-political manner.  It has provided vital support to our Dorrigo community, which has enabled us to engage in a meaningful and equitable way researching questions of planning and environmental law that affect our region.  Areas of the Dorrigo Plateau are World Heritage listed.
Given the many current conflicts concerning land use in rural NSW we believe it is vital the Environmental Defenders Office continues its indispensable provision of legal information to our communities so we can avoid or at least minimise costly disputes.  This surely, in the long term, will save time and money for all concerned including the Government by avoiding costly delays and possible legal challenges in the relevant courts.
We require an assurance that the government will secure the future of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office by reinstating the 3 year funding via the Public Purposes Fund and other government funding sources so they can continue to provide this essential service.  Without government information or support to navigate the complexity of environmental and planning laws that dictate land use we rural dwellers are at a considerable disadvantage, unable to fairly participate and contribute to decisions that affect us.  In a nutshell, funding cuts for the NSW EDO equate to a considerable injustice for all rural communities including our own, especially as the NSW budget is in surplus.

We need to ensure that the recent NSW Planning System reform which relies on ‘engaging communities as an integral part of making key planning decisions that will affect the growth of their communities’ is underpinned by the service the Environmental Defenders Office provides so we in rural NSW can truly participate in decisions that affect our future wellbeing as a community.  We urge the Government to reconsider.

We encourage anyone with concerns to contact the Attorney General, The Premier and your local Member of Parliament in support of NSW Environmental Defenders Office.

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