Snowy Hydro 2.0
The human impact on Kosciuszko National Park (KNP) also continues unabated, with the Federal and NSW Coalition Governments committing to the construction of Snowy Hydro 2.0. While supporting renewable energy like pumped hydro in principle, NPA opposes the development of this type of infrastructure within national parks. In early March, the NSW Planning Minister declared Snowy Hydro 2.0 Critical State Significant Infrastructure, with a Legislative Council Inquiry into the order being held in May. NPA made a submission to the inquiry and appeared as an expert witness. NPA is also preparing a submission in response to the recently released Environmental Impact Statement for Snowy Hydro 2.0 Exploratory Works.
Raising of the Warragamba Dam Wall
In early June, NPA joined a coalition of conservationists, traditional owners and flood policy experts in seeking international intervention by the World Heritage Committee to halt the NSW Government’s plan to raise the Warragamba dam. In a letter delivered to its meeting in Bahrain by former Environment Minister Bob Debus and Harry Burkitt (Colong Foundation for Wilderness), the World Heritage Committee was called on
“to request the Australian Government to provide a comprehensive report on the impact of the Warragamba Dam wall raising within the next year and that it be asked to agree that a moratorium be placed upon any State approval processes until the World Heritage Committee has been able to consider its position upon the proposal at its meeting in mid-2019”.
Despite this action Infrastructure NSW has announced that it will be proceeding with this plan. The Opposition Spokesperson for Water has called on the Coalition Government to look at alternative options, including lowering Warragamba dam’s water height limit and turning on Sydney’s desalination plant to address any resulting water shortfall.
If it proceeds, raising of the Warragamaba Dam wall could result in the inundation of 65 kilometres of wild rivers and streams around Lake Burragorang in the World Heritage-protected Greater Blue Mountains National Park. NPA is continuing to support The Colong Foundation for Wilderness in its campaign to stop the raising of the dam wall.
Protect Or Parks – Feral Horses
On Sunday 20 May, the Deputy Premier, John Barillaro visited Kosciuszko National Park (KNP) to announce that he would be introducing legislation to protect the heritage status of feral horses in the national park. This was an extraordinary announcement, usurping the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton, prioritising the protection of an invasive species ahead of 27 threatened native species, undermining the pending draft determination of the threatened species scientific committee on wild horses being a key threatening process, and undermining the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Despite an extraordinary public response in opposition to the legislation, the bill was successfully passed, but not without a long drawn out debate and series of amendments in the Legislative Committee, all opposed by the Coalition Government. NPA, along with a suite of highly distinguished scientists and community members, worked tirelessly over a two-week period in a bid to prevent the passing of the bill. In addition to strong media the Greens and Independent MP Alex Greenwich opposed the bill and the ALP has committed to the repeal of the Act.
NPA will continue to advocate for the repeal of the Act and for the removal of feral horses from Kosciuszko using effective and humane means.
Myth buster: Contrary to statements of the Deputy Premier, the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act makes no reference to preventing the lethal culling of horses in KNP.
Ending logging in state forests
Coalition Governments at the state and federal level remain committed to the logging of public native forests. If successful this commitment will see ‘Regional Forest Agreements’ renewed until 2038, and new 10-year wood supply contracts ending in 2028.
During May and June, NPA collaborated with environment groups in running a series of forums designed to raise public awareness about logging, its impacts, and our Forests For All and Great Koala National Park plans. The forums coincided with the introduction of new forestry laws to Parliament (Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018) and consultation on the draft Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA). We ran four forums in Sydney culminating in the launch of our new report, Forests For All: Case For Change, at Parliament House on 20 June and a rally outside Parliament on 21 June.
While the Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 contained important new provisions, including contemporary compliance and enforcement provisions and increased penalties for breaches by Forestry Corporation of NSW, it failed to reinstate third party enforcement rights and confirmed the transfer of licensing of private native forestry to Local Land Services. We were provided with a brief opportunity to advocate for improvements to the bill, making a submission to, and appearing as a witness before, the Legislative Council Inquiry into the proposed legislation. Unsurprisingly our efforts were unsuccessful.
Of greatest concern however is the proposed IFOA. If implemented these proposed new laws will result in the intensive logging of 43% of high quality koala habitat in state forests on the north coast; reductions in the size of the informal CAR reserve system through the remapping of old growth forests and reductions in riparian protection zones to allow logging to meet unsustainable wood supply agreements; and the logging of giant trees up to 140cm diameter at breast height (dbh) and 160cm dbh in the case of blackbutt. Over 3,000 submissions were made in response to the draft IFOA, including a joint submission by NPA and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, a copy of which can be found on our website.
NPA is currently exploring available legal options should the RFAs be renewed.
Myth buster: Contrary to the Coalition’s commitment in the NSW Forest Industry Road Map of no reduction in wood supply and no reduction in environmental values, the draft IFOA will open-up previously protected native forests to logging and allow intensive logging of 140,000 hectares on the north coast to meet an anticipated annual wood supply shortfall of over 8,000m3.