Progress on biodiversity regs for bushfire rebuilds

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes says the NSW Government has responded swiftly to recent calls for the removal of biodiversity constraints for bushfire rebuilds, but there’s more to be done.

“After my media statements last Monday, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment staff have been in touch with our planning team to discuss potential solutions, and we’re feeling positive about what might be achieved. 

“DPIE staff have agreed to continue engaging with Council in preparing a solution, and we expect the opportunity to review draft legislation shortly,” she said.

In the Eurobodalla, one the shires hardest hit by the Black Summer bushfires, up to 277 property owners will need to undertake expensive assessments under the Biodiversity Conservation Act before they can rebuild. Assessments can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, and are the only way to achieve the clearing required to comply with current bushfire management standards.

Mayor Innes last week publicly called on the NSW Government to switch off the biodiversity legislation for those rebuilding after the fires, citing unnecessary delays, cost and stress.

She said nine councils in the south-east of NSW including Eurobodalla had been advocating since January for the biodiversity legislation to be switched off for bushfire-affected communities.

A joint letter from the nine councils on 7 May 2020 to the ministers for planning and environment remains unanswered.

“The government needs to ensure this targeted legislative amendment occurs sooner rather than later. Its common sense, and those trying to rebuild their lives have waited long enough,” Clr Innes said.