Unravelling the Private Native Forestry Puzzle: Kyogle Council at the crossroads

Article is the third in a series written by Kyogle Environment Group

The proposed Local Environmental Plan (LEP) Amendment, seeking to eliminate Dual Consent and exempt Private Native Forestry (PNF) from the Development Application (DA) process on RU1 zoned land, is poised to enter a pivotal phase. The Department of Planning & Environment is now tasked with determining the fate of this planning proposal, a decision that continues to evoke concerns on multiple fronts.

A shroud of secrecy envelops private property logging, and the Local Land Services (LLS), responsible for greenlighting PNF plans, offers no transparency for public scrutiny regarding the precise locations of logging activities. This lack of transparency extends to considering environmental and infrastructural matters only within the confines of the subject property.

Compounding the issue, the LLS neglects to assess the cumulative impact of private forestry across a broader landscape concerning public infrastructure and community interests. This oversight places Kyogle Council as the sole regulatory authority tasked with considering local amenity, potential damage to roads from heavy haulage, erosion, water quality, and the minimisation of noise and traffic impacts on the community. It also places the responsibility on the council to coordinate planning with other essential elements such as wildlife corridors.

A critical concern arises when juxtaposing the fact that half of Kyogle Local Government Area (LGA) is already under a PNF plan. The Council’s push to relinquish DA responsibilities for an activity of high impact, especially when compared to other developments with significantly smaller footprints that still require a DA, raises questions about the coherence of such a decision. This departure from sound planning principles is cause for concern.

Finally, the recent closures of native forestry logging in Victoria and Western Australia underscore the growing advocacy for similar measures in New South Wales. This movement, if successful, could exponentially increase the demand for sawlogs from private forestry. In light of these developments, the proposal submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment for Gateway Determination this month must acknowledge the enduring impacts of logging. Moreover, it is imperative for councillors to prioritise policies that foster inclusivity and protection for all within the LGA.

Balancing economic interests with environmental conservation is not only a necessity but a responsibility for the long-term well-being of the community. The forthcoming decision on the LEP Amendment should reflect a commitment to sustainable practices, community welfare, and the preservation of Kyogle’s unique environmental assets.

This article first appeared in the February edition of the Nimbin Good Times and is reproduced here in full with permission.

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