North East Forest Alliance Meeting with Geoff Provest

NEFA considers it reprehensible that the NSW Government have refused to approve Tweed Shire Council’s Koala Plan of Management for the past 6 years because they wanted it weakened, even though two Government agencies helped draft it.

The National’s Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill sought to limit accreditation of Koala Plans of Management under the Local Land Services Act to only those approved, meaning Tweed would miss out.

Most reprehensibly the Bill intended to approve logging operations throughout NSW to over-ride Council’s Environmental Zones and Tree Preservation Orders, as well as allowing self-assessed clearing for ‘allowable activities’ in environmental zones irrespective of environmental values.

This would have over-ridden areas protected by Tweed Council over decades, as well as preventing additional protections intended by the Koala Plan of Management.  The Nationals saw this as a win for loggers over “greenie local councils”.

Geoff Provest voted for this attempt to disenfranchise Tweed Council when it was approved by the NSW Lower House. It was only stopped because Catherine Cusack crossed the floor in the Upper House and referred the Bill to a committee for review.

At our amicable meeting with Geoff last Tuesday (23 February) we were assured that we could expect some action on Council’s Koala Plan of Management, which is not unsurprising as this was one of the 11, out of 42, Upper House Koala Inquiry recommendations that the NSW Government claims it “supported“. Approval is long overdue.

Geoff said he would only consider our request that he make representations to the NSW Government to not allow logging operations to over-ride provisions of Tweed’s Local Environment Plan and State Environmental Planning Policies, or allow self-assessed clearing for ‘allowable activities’ in environmental zones.

Removal of existing protections could lead to widespread clearing and degradation, and ultimately development, of some of the Tweed’s most important remnant habitats.

He also said he would consider our request for the State to fund Koala surveys west of the Pacific Highway in Tweed Shire to identify core Koala habitat.

Geoff Provest needs to stand-up for his community and ensure that their hard won protections for koala habitat around Cudgen, Mount Nullum, Mount Warning and elsewhere in the shire are not removed.

Dailan Pugh

Following the North East Forest Alliance Meeting with Geoff Provest, 23 February 2021