Media Release: State of the Environment Report Makes for Horrid Reading

In Parliament | 21.03.16

Monday, 21 March 2016

The State of the Environment Report released by Minister Speakman over the weekend shows that under the Baird Government, the environment in NSW is going backwards.

The State of the Environment Report is living proof that cuts to programs and staffing, a lack of data and a lack of commitment to addressing environmental concerns is responsible for environmental conditions that are worsening across NSW.

The State of the Environment Report, has signaled the following alarming trends in New South Wales:

  1. The Baird Government’s failure to attract renewable energy to New South Wales with over 90 per cent of the State’s energy demand still being met by non-renewable sources (coal, gas and petroleum). The report gives New South Wales a poor rating for total energy use and non-renewable energy production.
  2. A backlog of 860 contaminated site sites reported in 2014 still waiting assessment.
  3. Continued poor ratings for NSW greenhouse gas emissions with forecasts estimating that emissions from the energy and transport sectors will continue to rise.
  4. The continuing deterioration of the State’s soil quality with 74 per cent of priority soil units being rated as poor or very poor for at least one soil degradation hazard. New South Wales continues to lose much of its precious soil to erosion while soil salinity and acidification continues to rise. 
  5. Continued biodiversity loss with 999 native species listed as threatened, an addition of another 10 species since 2012. Loss of habitat and invasive species such as foxes and cats continue to wreak havoc with our native fauna. The number of endangered species is now 54.
  6. Just 9 per cent of the State’s native vegetation is in a good condition. Weeds now make up more than one-fifth (21 per cent) of the New South Wales’ flora.
  7. Sydney residents are being forced travel further for work and recreation.
  8. Air quality for fine particles PM10 continues to be an issue particularly in regional New South Wales in areas like Wagga Wagga and the Hunter.
  9. River health continues to deteriorate. Of the 10 catchments where overall fish condition index scores could be produced for the whole catchment, none were rated as being in ‘good’ condition. Three were ‘poor’, and one was ‘very poor’. Five river valleys were rated as being in ‘extremely poor’ condition—the Castlereagh, Condamine- Culgoa, Macquarie, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan. Close to a third of all native fish in the Murray-Darling Basin is listed as threatened with extinction.
  10. Coastal, estuarine and marine environments have been extensively cleared with only one in five retaining more than 90% of their natural un-cleared vegetation.



Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Environment Penny Sharpe

 “The New South Wales environment is in a sorry state. The Minister cannot hide the fact that the environment has been neglected under the Baird Government”.

 “The downgrading of environment within government, ongoing cuts to programs, the sacking of highly trained scientists and extreme anti-environment sentiment within the National Party are all taking their toll.”

 “NSW is experiencing massive biodiversity loss, a deterioration of our soil, great water insecurity and a decrease in the quality of our air and the health of our river systems.

 “In a statement of the bleeding obvious, Minister Speakman said that there is ‘…room for improvement and challenges ahead’ yet the only environmental indicator the Baird Government has prioritized under the Premier’s priority list is litter.

 “This report sounds the alarm on the pressures our environment is facing. The Baird Government must spell out what action they will take to address the alarming trends in the State of the Environment Report as a matter of urgency.”