MEDIA RELEASE 19/6/2014
The North East Forest Alliance has welcomed the NSW Upper House inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority’s audit of Royal Camp State Forest (near Casino) as NEFA believe it was a political cover-up aimed at hiding the full scope and extent of licence breaches committed by the Forestry Corporation.
NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said that while the EPA issued the Forestry Corporation three $300 fines for logging in a Koala High Use Area, their 2013 audit report failed to respond to NEFA’s complaints that Forestry Corporation logged another 2 Koala High Use Areas while the EPA were conducting their audit.
“Given that the EPA told us they had inspected at least one of these and agreed it was another Koala High Use Area, their failure to mention it in their report is inexplicable.
“The fact that this was a cover-up was made apparent by the EPA’s dismissal of numerous complaints on the grounds that they “could not locate the alleged location”, this was despite NEFA providing the EPA with photos, GPS locations and even leading the EPA to the specific breaches in the forest.
“There is something very rotten when the EPA claim they could not find breaches they were shown on site.
“We were disappointed that the EPA once again ignored our complaints about logging facilitating the spread of both lantana and Bell Miner Associated Dieback along the main creek through the area.
“We also showed EPA the head and upper trunk of an illegally felled Spotted Gum with the distinctive incisions that Yellow-bellied Gliders make in the trunk in order to collect sap for feeding. Despite wildlife ecologist Mr. Milledge discussing this with EPA on site, the EPA refused to take any action because they claimed they could not determine beyond reasonable doubt whether the incisions had been made by a yellow-bellied glider” Mr. Pugh said.
Mr. Milledge said “Several incisions were of the classic v-notch shape, and were surrounded by claw marks typical of those made by the Yellow-bellied Glider when biting into the bark of such trees. These incisions were among the clearest and most readily identifiable that I have seen. I find it inconceivable that the EPA was unable to positively identify the subject tree as a Yellow-bellied Glider sap feed tree from the incisions present”.
Mr. Pugh said “NEFA do not consider that the EPA dealt with our complaints on logging operations in Royal Camp State Forest in a fair, balanced or competent manner. The EPA suppressed audit results relevant to complaints, claimed that they couldn’t find trees they were shown on the ground, ignored expert evidence, and refused to audit significant breaches.
“We welcome this opportunity to have the EPA’s handling of this matter investigated. Their audit was either a deliberate attempt to hide the nature and extent of breaches or an extremely shoddy, unprofessional and incompetent job. This is just one of the EPA’s audits that we harbor grave reservations about, maybe now we can find out why they are so bad”. Mr. Pugh said.
The NEFA Audit of Royal Camp State Forest is available at http://nefa.org.au/audit/RoyalCamp/NEFA_Audit_Royal_Camp_SF.pdf
NEFA’S complaint to Mark Gifford about the EPA audit is available at: EPA_Royal Camp_NEFA Review.
1795. Mr Foley’s successful motion (as amended by David Shoebridge to include Royal Camp)
1. That General Purpose Standing Committee No 5 inquire and report on the performance of the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and in particular:
(a) measure the EPA’s recent performance against its objectives pursuant to Section 6 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991,
(b) that the following cases be considered:
(i) land contamination issues at Botany and Hillsdale,
(ii) EPA investigations and public statements about the effects of coal dust pollution in the Hunter,
(iii) EPA investigation into ground water contamination in the Pilliga by Santos’ coal seam gas exploration,
(iv) the prosecution of Du Pont (Australia) Ltd for the alleged offence of land pollution in the western Sydney suburb of Girraween,
(v) the regulation of cruise passenger ships at the White Bay Cruise Terminal at Balmain,
(vi) the regulation of forestry practices in Royal Camp State Forest and
(c) any other related matters.
2. That the committee report by 14 February 2015.