Warning on planned changes to environmental legislation

Published: June 03, 2014

The Lock the Gate Alliance has warned of a profound environmental and legal impact from proposed changes to the nation’s strongest environmental legislation currently being considered by the government.

In a submission to the Senate inquiry into changes to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, released today, Lock the Gate argues that the changes could lead to “unintended environmental harm and poor administrative process.”

Of special concern to Lock the Gate are plans by the federal government to remove any federal oversight of the recently introduced water trigger in the EPBC Act.

The water trigger, introduced last year, makes the impact of coal mines and coal seam gas projects on water resources matters of national environmental significance and therefore the subject of greater scrutiny.

Lock the Gate’s submission to the inquiry urges the senate to oppose the changes, which leave environmental matters, including those of national significance, in the hands of the states.

Spokesperson for Lock the Gate Carmel Flint said the proposed changes to the EPBC Act would result in the loss of years of hard fought environmental protection and reduce public input into decisions of national significance.

“The changes represent a massive watering down of the existing legislation and will leave Australia’s environment and its vital water resources, exposed to unfettered exploitation,” Ms Flint said.

“Our water resources are of national significance and national importance and they need to be protected from inappropriate mining activities.

“It took a long time for the water trigger to be put into legislation and now it looks as if the coal and CSG companies will get their way and get rid of this important safeguard.

“The Liverpool Plains, which produces enough grain every year for 365 million loaves of bread, 62.5 million packets of pasta and 58 million boxes of cornflakes, relies on water resources to feed the nation yet these very resources are being threatened by coal and coal seam gas mining.

“The threat to a major food producing region is surely of national significance.”

The submission says the proposed changes would set a system in place for worsening degradation and loss of matters of national environmental significance, would contravene the nation’s international obligations and would not be in the public interest.

For further information contact: Carmel Flint 0400 521 474

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