New land clearing laws - no prosecutions and Government refuses to say how much land cleared

In Parliament | 13.02.18

Information released to the Labor Opposition shows that under the controversial new land clearing laws, not one land holder has been prosecuted for illegal land clearing since the laws came into force in August 2017.

The documents (attached)also show that prosecutions in the last three years against illegal clearing have plummeted with 10 prosecutions in 2014/2015 falling to just two prosecutions in 2015/2016, and two more in 2016/2017.

NSW Labor asked for figures on the amount of land that is being cleared under the new land clearing laws only to be told by the Office of Environment and Heritage that the “information not held”.

When asked about clearing in earlier years, the request was refused except for three-year-old data from 2013/2014.

The new land clearing laws contained in the Biodiversity Conservation Act were introduced against a backdrop of protest from scientists, environmentalists, farmers and Labor who all said that the laws would have a horrific impact on native animals and plants, including threatened species like the koala.

These groups also warned of a detrimental impact on water, soil and greenhouse gas emissions.

Quotes attributable to the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe 

“Like water theft, the NSW Government is failing our environment, choosing to back the thieves and illegal clearers over farmers and other land holders doing the right thing. 

“As the chainsaws and bulldozers roar across NSW, failure to prosecute shows that those illegally clearing know they have nothing to fear. 

“Farmers on the ground are telling me about illegal clearing, calls to government departments that go unanswered and a failure to act when reported. 

 “Every warning about the impact of these land clearing laws is coming to pass right under the noses of a government which is wilfully allowing this environmental vandalism to continue."