New South Wales farmers say they are unsure what a new koala protection policy will mean for them.
- Farmers are unsure of what the new policy means, but say koalas won’t be threatened
- Green groups say the policy will be ‘catastrophic’
The policy will leave farmers largely exempt from extra koala protection responsibility
Details of the new policy were unveiled yesterday after the NSW Liberals and Nationals made a deal on koala protection which gives more concessions to farmers.
The new planning regulations will leave them largely exempt from extra koala protection responsibilities.
Rural areas will be removed from the new State Environment Planning Policy on koalas and come under a new code that is yet to be developed.
Land that is zoned for farming and forestry will not be subject to the rules designed to protect koala habitat.
The changes will focus on high-conservation areas where 95 per cent of development occurs, and there’ll be specific plans for koala habitat in the Tweed and Byron shires.
However, NSW Farmers Association president James Jackson said he was concerned about the finer detail.
“So although on the face of it it seems to be something we concur with, the stinger is exactly how the land management codes and guidelines will be affected.”
Mr Jackson said he would be looking for more clarification on the new policy and for more information regarding reviews of land management codes.
“We’re desperately trying to find out exactly what this means and what the impact is for our farmers and their ability to conduct their business on their land,” he said.
However, Mr Jackson denied that any concessions given to farmers would see koalas threatened.
Green groups have labelled the new policy as “catastrophic”.
A forest conservation group has described the NSW Government’s new koala policy as a death blow for koalas.
North East Forest Alliance president Dailan Pugh said he was concerned that it removed councils’ ability to regulate logging on private land.
“So council can no longer require a consent for logging or prohibit it, so currently throughout north-east New South Wales there’s something like 167,000 hectares of land that’s zoned for protection where logging’s not allowed and there’s about another 600,000 hectares where councils require consent,” he said.
“So under what they’re proposing here, all that protection gets removed.
“Across the board, councils’ ability to regulate what occurs on private land is gone in terms of logging and they’re doing that because they’re concerned that too many councils are, to use their words, ‘greenie councils’ who are requiring these constraints for logging.
“I think it’s disgusting but it’s also removing councils’ democratic rights, which we’ve had for decades, to regulate activity on private lands.”
Speaking on the Mid North Coast this morning, The Nationals member Melinda Pavey said koalas were not in any more danger.
“I speak on behalf of the farmers that I know throughout this region, they’re delighted when they have a koala on their property,” she said.
“People up the back of Kempsey, up at Willawarrin and Bellbrook, say they wish they had some (koalas) and haven’t got any.”