Letter to the Editor (The Beagle): Plenty of better solutions than simply switching off legislation that protects wildlife: August 6th 2020

The Beagle Editor,

Commenting on ‘lnnes presses to Switch off Biodiversity to allow bushfire rebuilds

It is really sad to hear this coming from the Mayor of our council.

Our recently amended environmental regulations in NSW are already quite relaxed and have resulted in a 13 fold increase in land clearing.

lt is very rare that developments are blocked or significantly slowed because of these regulations. And if they are slowed or blocked, it is because there is a real risk that threatened species and their habitat are likely to be significantly impacted and thus some mitigation is required to protect them.

Suggesting that we remove these biodiversity safeguards (referred to as ‘biodiversity constraints’ by the Mayor), in the wake of the worst ecological disaster the region has experienced, is both negligent and short-sighted.

We need to consider the impacts of our developments now more than ever, particularly because there has already been a rush to illegally clear land around houses after the fires. People are taking liberties with land clearing because of the “smoke screen” of the fires.

We need to be more diligent with our environmental compliance now, than ever before.

We also need to give our native species the best chance they have to recover. And this is most important at the urban/bushland interface. Burnt areas are not ‘effectively cleared’ as the Mayor claims, they have the potential to recover, as evidenced by what we see around us now, and will once again provide important wildlife habitat.

Furthermore, suggesting that we do not rebuild to current bushfire management standards will only leave the land owner at risk when the next bushfire occurs.

Bushfire management standards are there to try and mitigate the risks of bushfires impacting properties and people. We need to build more defendable and fire resistant homes if we want to live in one of the most beautiful but fireprone regions of the world.

I understand that these “constraints” can be costly to recovering land owners. So instead of rewriting the laws, causing further impacts to the environment and ignoring the risk of future fires, why doesn’t the Mayor ask the government to provide grants to landowners looking to rebuild to a higher level of bushfire protection. Grants to help pay for the relevant consultants reports and counciI fees.

Or provide additional resources to local councils and government departments to help speed up the processing of development applications. There are plenty of better solutions than simply switching off the only piece of legislation that protects our wildlife.

Reina Hill
President
the Coastwatchers Association Inc.

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