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More bad news for NSW coastal forests

August 14, 2017 - 00:16 -- Admin

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2017:A draft bill to revamp regulations for native forestry in NSW was slammed as "overly complex" and inequitable, and it failed to address "an inherent conflict of interest" in the oversight of state-owned Forestry Corp.Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show the NSW Environment Protection Authority found the government's draft native forestry bill unfairly favoured Forestry Corp by remove licensing requirements for the corporation while maintaining them for landholders or industry seeking private native forestry.It would also leave the corporation with powers unmatched for a state agency, including its protection from third-party challenges such as from environmental groups. "The inherent conflict of interest for a corporation in having a concurrency role for negotiating, revoking or changing the terms of their licence ... and the removal of third party legal rights, exists nowhere else in NSW legislation or regulation," the EPA's leaked assessment made last December shows.Fairfax Media understands the EPA also sought legal advice on how to restrict "very intense" harvesting that the Forestry Corp had conducted for years in areas such as the blackbutt-dominant forests of the NSW mid-north coast.The Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) that permitted the logging were, however, found to be poorly worded, curbing the watchdog's ability to take legal action.Even if it could act, though, the penalties available remain tiny. While other breaches, such as by coal mines, could attract fines of as much as $1 million, most forestry penalties were in the hundreds of dollars.Many of the sanctions were decades old and although the cabinet had discussed a review of the penalties in 2014 – and agreed on million-dollar fines for forestry impacts on threatened species in late 2015 – it is yet to update them......