Banning Environmental Court Challenges to Development Projects

There has been much outrage about the federal Government’s plan to ban legal challenges in court to development projects under environmental laws.

To understand just what a bad idea this is, look no further than NSW native forest logging industry.

Under laws governing logging in NSW, nobody, not even an adjoining land holder can challenge breaches of logging laws. For 15 years, only another Government agency has been able to do this.

Under section 69ZA of the Forestry Act 2012, (before that S.40 Forestry and National Park Estate Act) members of the public cannot challenge breaches of a Forest Agreement, the Forestry Act, an Integrated Forestry Operations Approval or the conditions of a licence issued under such an approval, such as a threatened species licence or an environment protection licence. `

The result has been disastrous for the forests, wildlife, soils and water and disastrous for NSW taxpayers. Logging has gone on unhindered by legal niceties in spite of hundreds of well documented breaches, recorded by people who have risked prosecution to enter logging sites to record, photograph and report them.

The ultimate irony: this law was introduced by Bob Carr, the “green” Premier.

Harriett Swift

19 August 2015