Media Release: Overhaul cannot fix fatally flawed tree culling laws

The NSW Government has released an extensive list of changes it intends to make to the 10/50 vegetation clearing scheme, to partially address the damaging impacts of the tree culling code.

The Government Media Release is available here: Elliott and Speakman Media Release on 10/50 Amendments

The full report is available here: Final 10/50 Report  David Elliott and Mark Speakman med rel -- Improved 1050 scheme offers greater protection for environment_Page_1

The changes are a result of a concerted community campaign across NSW, from residents, community and environment groups and local councils who have been appalled at the tree loss caused by 10/50.

The extent of the changed recommended by the RFS demonstrate just how flawed the scheme is. When the Government amended the scheme in 2014 the Minister claimed the amendment “strikes a balance between environmental protection and household property safety.” This was clearly incorrect. The amendments they are now proposing also do not achieve this balance. The scheme needs to be scrapped entirely.

Greens MP and Emergency Services Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“This long list of essential amendments to the 10/50 code is the clearest possible proof of just how flawed the entire instrument is.

“The Government is not making these changes willingly, they have been forced into taking action by an active community across NSW appalled at the damage the 10/50 code is doing.

“Of course World Heritage sites and RAMSAR wetlands need to be protected, what is beyond comprehension is how this government allowed these precious areas to be covered by this tree-culling code in the first place.

“This code was never targeted at bushfire protection, from the outset it has been exploited by developers and landowners wanting to maximise views and profits not protect their property from fires.

“The root problem with 10/50 is self-assessment, where trees and vegetation are cleared without any oversight, so even with these changes we will still see thousands of beautiful mature trees being wrongly cut down.

“Even with these changes it still leaves thousands of hectares of bushland and tree canopy across NSW open to the abusive use of the 10/50 code.

“The chainsaws might be slowing a little, but too many trees will continue to fall until the entire code is scrapped.

“All the amendments in the world won’t fix this code, it needs to be repealed,” Mr Shoebridge said.

The changes proposed include:

Exclude the following areas from the operation of the code:

  • World Heritage and Ramsar wetlands
  • National parks
  • Core koala habitat
  • Certain critically endangered ecological communities, critically endangered plants and critical habitat
  • Coastal wetlands
  • Littoral rainforest
  • Land parcels within 100 metres of the coastline or estuaries
  • Mangroves and saltmarshes
  • Lord Howe Island
  • Small bushland reserves

Other changes include:

  • Requiring the permission of a neighbour before trees are cleared to allegedly provide them with bushfire safety
  • Stopping tree clearing on identified Aboriginal Places
  • Preventing the chopping down of Aboriginal scar trees; and
  • Excluding locally listed heritage trees
  • Clarifications that liability exists for landowners where landslips are caused by cutting trees under 10/50
  • Preventing clearing of vegetation contrary to conditions of development consent

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