Threatened species across NSW face extinction if the state’s ineffective offset legislation is not scrapped and rewritten to better protect them, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
Amid revelations that mining companies are able to use the very pits that they dig and plan to rehabilitate - many years down the track - as offsets, the Alliance is calling for a new set of rules that protect threatened species and ecological communities, rather than hastens their decline.
LTGA’s submission to the Inquiry into the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme details how offsetting is likely hastening, rather than preventing, the loss of species and ecological communities. The public hearing of the inquiry begins today.
“Offsetting is a dubious practice at best, and must always be implemented as the very last resort when projects are approved,” said Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Carmel Flint.
“In practice in NSW, not only is offsetting no longer a last resort, but it has become the assumed approach.
“The legislation in place in NSW is utterly devoid of scientific rigour - it is just a box for mining companies to tick that does nothing to preserve this state’s natural heritage.
“There are some ecological communities that are so endangered, such as Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt Forest, that their destruction simply cannot be offset - yet the current legislation allows mining companies to bulldoze them anyway.
“We now find ourselves in the situation where mining companies are clearing critically endangered ecosystems like this, with nothing more than an intention to replant saplings on the disturbed site decades down the track when mining has ceased.
“You don’t need to be an ecologist to understand why this is ineffective at preserving or restoring the biodiversity that was lost.
“Regional extinctions are likely occurring right now due to this dodgy offsetting practice, and it’s why the system requires a total overhaul.”