Alarm over statewide planning scheme threat to national parks

Media Release 23rd September 2016

IMG_8292-small.jpg

Community, science and environment voices raise alarm over statewide planning scheme threat to national parks, threatened species and urban amenity

In the lead up to the final opportunity for consultation on the proposed State Planning Provisions, a growing range of community voices are coming together to highlight key concerns with the direction of the changes and the alienation of the public in planning decisions. Next week the Tasmanian Planning Commission will hold hearings on aspects of the scheme.

The proposed State Planning Provisions, a key component of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme, remove both environmental and community protections and the capacity for public engagement in planning decisions. It amounts to gifting the real estate and tourism development sectors a similar 'special deal' that was granted to aquaculture 20 years ago and forestry and mining industries before that.

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme is the most significant legislative change to planning law since the introduction of the Resource Management and Planning System in 1993 and unfortunately it counters many of the objectives that system was designed to implement.

Planning Minister Peter Gutwein is expected to sign off on the new State Planning Provisions in December and strong protections and public involvement provisions must be retained. These are historic changes that most Tasmanians have no idea about.

"Tasmanians have traditionally been wary of politicians that get too close to big business. We need to know that our government isn't just box ticking development plans for the big end of town, while locking locals out of the process that should give them a say about what happens in their own backyard," said Laura Kelly, Strategic Director for Environment Tasmania.”

Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick has studied the natural values of Tasmania’s parks and reserves for 40 years and said “a planning process simply shouldn’t allow development in Tasmania’s conservation reserve estate to be exempt from rigorous and transparent assessment as it will lead to an inevitable deterioration of the natural and cultural values the reserves are designed to protect. The public service is simply not adequately resourced to carry out community-based planning.”

Sophie Underwood recently spearheaded a campaign with RACT members regarding expanded tourism development in Freycinet National Park. She said the response to that proposal demonstrated how valued national parks are, and how critical it is that the community has a say in the way that parks and reserves are managed. “If the Tasmanian Planning Scheme is introduced, the community will lose the ability to properly scrutinise future proposals by a proponent like the RACT, opportunity for public comment will be limited and the right of appeal will be taken away.”

“The iconic natural and scenic beauty of the East Coast is being threatened via changes to planning laws that put developers interests ahead of the public interest and sound and democratic planning processes,” said Todd Dudley, President of the North East Bioregional Network.

Nick Sawyer is spokesperson for the Tasmanian National Parks Association and worked in reserve management for the Parks and Wildlife service for many years. He said “opportunities for public scrutiny of proposed developments within national parks are already inadequate and full introduction of the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme will only make the situation worse. Changes are urgently required to guarantee both public comment and appeal rights.”

Concerns with the proposed new planning scheme extend to non-reserved land, including private land that is known to hold important natural or community amenity values. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has worked on private land conservation issues for decades and noted a disturbing weakening of protections in the new planning scheme.

"The government has failed to ensure that threatened species habitats will be protected with appropriate zoning on private land so it seems that wherever industry has an interest, habitats will get second priority," said Trust Director Peter McGlone. “Planning schemes should provide a safety net for species, prohibiting development in critical habitat areas, but this scheme is a net with so many gaping holes it is hard to see how threatened species will be saved by anyone other than enlightened proponents.”

Robert Vincent is an Architect with urban and regional planning experience and is spokesperson for the Tasmanian Planning Information Network (TasPIN). Mr Vincent said “These planning changes are complex and detailed and will have far-reaching ramifications for people and places across Tasmania. They are being imposed with little explanation but will serious consequences for our urban amenity.”

For comment:

Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick – 0499 879 514
Todd Dudley – NEBN - 0448 009 738
Robert Vincent – Tas PIN – 0478 050 843
Peter McGlone – Tasmanian Conservation Trust – 0406 380 545
Sophie Underwood – Freycinet Action Network – 0407 501 999
Nick Sawyer – Tasmanian National Parks Association – 0414 718 831

header-image.jpg

Add your reaction Share

John Mulvaney reshaped Australia - Bob Brown

Media Release 22 September 2016

 LOGO-trim.jpg

Professor John Mulvaney was a unique historian and archaeologist who gave Australia a new, more truthful insight into its ancient human history and who helped save some of the most remarkable places in the nation, Bob Brown said in Tasmania today.

"He brought a new truth to ancient history and was also eager to save the beauty of the nation, from its Franklin River gorge country in Tasmania to mature European trees facing demolition to make way for the National Museum in Canberra.

"John Mulvaney brought much-needed gravitas and authority to the campaign to save from logging Tasmania's Recherche Bay peninsula where French scientists and the Palawa people met up in 1793. He weighed into saving the Franklin River in Tasmania and the Daintree rainforest in northern Queensland, and was ready to bring his globally-celebrated scientific knowledge to bear in many other environmental campaigns," Brown said.

"In unfinished business, John wanted the million Aboriginal stone carvings on Western Australia's Burrup Peninsula near Karratha - one of the world's greatest ancient art sites - protected from the expansions of the offshore gas processing industry and given the World Heritage status they deserve. This was opposed by Premier Colin Barnett.

"John Mulvaney was a warm-hearted, generous and inordinately wise Australian," Brown said.



Contact
Jenny Weber
0427 366 929

 

Add your reaction Share

Bob Brown Foundation presents 5th Annual Environment Awards

Media release 19 September 2016

LOGO-trim.jpg

The Bob Brown Foundation is presenting its 5th annual Environment Awards at a ceremony in Hobart today.

These awards recognise environmental activists who have been prepared to ‘step off the footpath’ to defend the natural world, often at great personal, physical and legal risk.

The 2016 Environmentalist of the Year, with $5000 prize money, is Peter Owen, Director of The Wilderness Society South Australia. Over the past decade, Peter has been instrumental in the protection of large areas of land and seascape including the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia’s Offshore Islands, the Arkaroola Mountains, the Mawson Plateau and the declaration of the State’s 19 marine parks – Australia’s first representative marine park network outside of the Great Barrier Reef.

In January 2016 Peter spearheaded the formation of the Great Australian Bight Alliance, a platform for people and organisations to stand together against fossil fuel mining in the Bight and prevent a Gulf of Mexico scale oil spill which would decimate the marine environment from Western Australia to Tasmania and beyond.

“Peter Owen is in the front rank of ecological achievers world-wide.”

“Thanks to Peter’s tireless campaigning over more than a decade, vast swathes of South Australia’s unique landscapes, islands and marine environments have been protected.”

“This South Australian environmental champion is now determined to see the Great Australian Bight rid of the threat of fossil fuel mining. Peter is leading the campaign to drive BP, and other would-be environmental despoilers, out of the Bight’s wild and pristine waters once and for all”, Bob Brown said.


The 2016 Young Environmentalist of the Year, with $2000 prize money, is Josh Creaser.

A 25 year-old born and bred Canberran, Josh is 350.org Australia's Frontline Projects Coordinator, working on national campaigns to stop the expansion of the coal and gas industry and support a rapid and fair transition to a fossil free energy system.

“The climate action movement is a powerhouse of young activists and Josh Creaser is one making a huge impact.”

“Josh has helped organise some of the most inspirational direct actions of the last few years, involving thousands of people in creative, peaceful protests against the coal and gas giants responsible for dangerous climate change”, Bob Brown said.

“Young, articulate and with a vision for a clean energy future backed by science and public opinion, campaigners like Josh must be a nightmare for the coal and gas industry”, Bob Brown said.


The 2016 Community Environment Prize, and $2000 prize money, goes to Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO).

GECO is a grass roots community group based in the small town of Goongerah in far East Gippsland, Victoria. GECO have been campaigning for protection of East Gippsland’s forests since 1993.

Using a variety of strategies including education, political lobbying, non-violent direct action, citizen science and forest monitoring, GECO have successfully protected a number of important forest habitats for a range of threatened species.

“Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) are local environmental heroes. Time after time, the authorities have failed to enforce their own laws designed to protect forests and their wildlife, and this brave band of activists have stepped in to ensure the law is upheld.”

“Thanks to GECO’s persistent and innovative campaigns, hundreds of hectares of habitat for threatened species like the Greater Glider and Long-footed potoroo have been saved from destruction.”

“Incredibly, GECO’s activists have been prosecuted for exposing illegal logging.  We think they deserve accolades, so it’s a great pleasure to present them with the Community Environment Award for their courageous work”, Bob Brown said.


The 2016 Deni Greene Award, and $2000 prize money, goes to Phil Wilkinson.

Phil Wilkinson works for the Australian Institute for Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), currently as its Executive Manager, Government Relations and Technical Services. Over the last 15 years, in roles with the organisation from Technical Manager to CEO, he has been instrumental in bringing together people from a range of disciplines across academia, industry and government to work together on improving sustainability in the built environment.

A founding member of the Green Building Council of Australia, Phil is a mechanical engineer who has demonstrated an amazing ability to achieve regulatory and behavioural change in an industry that has the potential to contribute significantly to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. His courage and tenacity, underpinned by great communication skills and a strong technical background, have resulted in practical outcomes with far-reaching impacts.

“Phil is a rare find – the combination of technical expertise, a passion for effective communication and a deep commitment to improving sustainability of the built environment is a boon to us all and makes him a deserving winner of the Deni Greene Award.”

“This award commemorates the life work of my late friend and engineer, Deni Greene, who came to Australia from the USA to join the campaign to save the Franklin River," Bob Brown said.


Peter Owen, Josh Creaser, Ed Hill (representing GECO) and Bob Brown will be available for interviews following the awards ceremony.

Backgrounders on each of the award winners are attached:


Media contact
Steven Chaffer  0408 855 261

Add your reaction Share

Brown's tourism appeal against Styx logging 'outrage'

Media Release 18 September 2016

header-image.jpg
Photo: Bob Brown

After visiting the World Heritage Styx Valley of the Giants today, environmentalist Bob Brown says clearfall logging right to the side of the Styx Valley Road is an outrage against Tasmania's tourism industry.

"Forestry Tasmania has shown sheer bloody-mindedness since the World Heritage declaration. Rather than leave a screen of forest beside the road over the Maydena Range to the spectacular Styx Valley, recent logging is right to the roadside. And tomorrow, Forestry Tasmania is closing the Styx Road again, this time in the heart of the valley between the Styx Bridge and the Big Tree Reserve to log regrowth native forest right to the roadside. It is sickening. this is not what visitors are expecting," Bob Brown said.

"I call on the Hodgman government to have a win-win outcome by proceeding while leaving a 50 metres screen of forest next to this major tourism artery."

Attached Photographs Logging to Styx tourism road on Maydena Range today by Bob Brown.

P9180009-thumb.jpg P9180015-thumb.jpg


For more information
Jenny Weber
0427 366 929

 

Add your reaction Share

Drop plans to open off-road vehicle tracks on takayna / Tarkine coast

Media Release 16 September 2016

Midden-Destruction-by-Chris-Crerar-IMG_0443.jpg
Midden destruction. Photo: Chris Crerar

Bob Brown Foundation has called on the State Government to abandon plans to re-open off-road vehicle tracks in takayna / Tarkine, following the Full Court of the Federal Court handing down its judgement in the Tasmania Government’s appeal.

“This debacle has gone on long enough, the Government should drop its project and keep this treasure trove of Aboriginal heritage on the takayna / Tarkine coast protected,” Bob Brown said.

“Tasmania’s taxpayers are paying dearly for a petty piece of political obstinacy – in refusing to ask the Federal Environment Minister to tick off its plans to open the tracks in takayna / Tarkine,” Bob Brown said.


Contact
Jenny Weber
0427 366 929

Add your reaction Share

Three State Leaders Invited to Speak at Public meeting to Save Macquarie Island Base

Media Release 16 September 2016

 LOGO-trim.jpg

The three state political leaders have been asked to speak at the Hobart Town Hall meeting to Save Macquarie Island base, as well as scientists with experience in Macquarie Island, as the campaign grows to save the base from closure.

"The more scientists reveal about the importance of Macquarie Island base, the more the public can see what a disaster it will be in so many ways if closed," Bob Brown said.

Save Macquarie Island Base
Public Meeting
Hobart Town Hall
Wednesday 21 September 2016
1:10pm - 2pm

Contact Jenny Weber 0427 366 929

Add your reaction Share

Campaign to save Macquarie Island base gets into gear

Media Release 14 September 2016

LOGO-trim.jpg

A Town Hall meeting calling for Macquarie Island Antarctic base to be retained and renewed will be held in Hobart next Wednesday, lunchtime.

The Bob Brown Foundation is hosting the public meeting and will have a range of speakers backing the base and in support of protecting the Macquarie Island World Heritage Area including its large marine protected area.

Speakers from across the political spectrum as well as experienced Macquarie Island expeditioners and scientists are being invited.

“At a time of rapidly rising tourism pressure, illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean and potential for re-introduction of pests threatening some of the world’s largest wildlife colonies, the need for the base is greater not less than before,” Bob Brown said today.

The Macquarie Island base was first established by Sir Douglas Mawson in 1911 as a radio base for attempts to reach the South Pole.


Contact
Jenny Weber
0427 366 929

 

Add your reaction Share

Call on Tasmanian Government to protect Swift Parrot habitat in secure reserves

Media Release 13 September 2016

SWIFT-30308-small.jpg
Swift Parrot. Photo: Henry Cook

SWIFT PARROT DEMO – 1PM TODAY ON PARLIAMENT LAWNS HOBART

The Bob Brown Foundation has called on the Tasmanian Government to declare secure reserves for all Swift Parrot habitat on public lands in Tasmania as one step to saving the critically endangered parrot from extinction. Conservationists will conduct their monthly Swift Parrot demonstration on Hobart’s parliament lawns today to coincide with the Tasmanian Parliament sitting.

“As the critically endangered Swift Parrots return to Tasmania’s native forests the Tasmanian Government could welcome them by declaring secure protection for all their habitat. Declaration of securely protected reserves on Bruny Island, in the southern forests and Wielangta would help save these critically endangered species. On Bruny Island for example, expanding South Bruny Island National Park to include all the unprotected forests surrounding the Park, can protect critical habitat for the Swift Parrot and remove the temporary stay of execution,” Jenny Weber said.

“Premier Hodgman and Minister Groom have a choice; keep Swift Parrot habitat open for logging and send Swift Parrots to extinction or make a historic move and declare secure reserves for Swift Parrots,” Jenny Weber said.

“We are holding monthly demonstrations on Parliament Lawns with placards of the Swift Parrot to remind the Government that a critically endangered species needs a strong effort to protect it from extinction, including permanently end logging in Swift Parrot habitat,” Jenny Weber said.

Contact
Jenny Weber
0427 366 929

Add your reaction Share

Campaign calls for protection of Aboriginal Heritage in takayna / Tarkine as Federal Court Appeal looms

Media Release 15 Aug 2016

 header-image.jpg

A successful launch of a new campaign to support the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in their fight to protect the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural landscape in Tasmania’s north-west was held on Friday night in Hobart. More than 350 turned out to the Stanley Burbury Theatre for the launch of a new book titled: takayna – country, culture, spirit.

The new book is a collaboration between Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and the Bob Brown Foundation, the new book, website and film tells the story of Tasmanian Aborigines living cultural connection to the National Heritage listed, Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape in takayna / Tarkine, and the fight to protect it from Government sanctioned damage.

Launched alongside the book is a new website for community members to send emails to the Prime Minister and Tasmanian Premier, asking them to halt the opening of off-road vehicle tracks between Sandy Cape and Pieman River in takayna / Tarkine.

The book, takayna – country, culture, spirit is a collection of portraits by Matthew Newton, Jillian Mundy and Paul Hoelen of members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, a forward written by Heather Sculthorpe and moving essay by Sharnie Everett, landscape photographs by Rob Blakers and Peter Dombrovskis, and introduction by Bob Brown.

The Tasmanian government adopted a policy to reopen 90km of off-road vehicle tracks across the dunes and middens of the remote takayna / Tarkine coastline. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre took the Tasmanian government to court and won. Now both the Australian and Tasmanian government are appealing the March 2016 Federal Court ruling. The appeal is due to go before the Federal Court in Hobart on August 22 and 23.

See more about takayna – country, culture, spirit here.

 

Add your reaction Share

Call to improve efforts to save Swift Parrot from extinction

Media Release 7th September 2016

logos.jpg

More can and should be done in Tasmania to try and ensure the survival of the Swift Parrot whose plight is being highlighted on National Threatened Species Day by the Bob Brown Foundation, Markets For Change, and the Environmental Defenders Office.

header-image.jpg
Newly fledged Swift Parrot. Photo: Elaine McDonald

Measures needed are:

  • Cease all logging in Swift Parrot breeding habitat
  • Regulate firewood cutting and step up measures to tackle illegal cutting in reserves
  • Finalise and implement a strong Recovery Plan for the species
  • Allocate adequate funding to efforts to ensure the survival of the Swift Parrot

“First and foremost the continued destruction of the Swift Parrot’s breeding habitat must cease,” said Jenny Weber for the Bob Brown Foundation.

“Forestry Tasmania has continued to schedule logging in the birds’ breeding habitat in the southern forests on the Tasmanian mainland, making only a limited effort with its temporary logging moratorium on Bruny Island.”

“Logging must end permanently in Swift Parrot breeding habitat, which comprises blue gums with nesting hollows together with foraging trees that they rely on for food.”

“When the Forest Stewardship Council found a major non-conformance with their standards in the way that Swift Parrot and other endangered species are dealt with in logging it was a key reason that FSC certification was not granted. This has yet to be satisfactorily rectified,” Ms Weber concluded.

“Recent destruction of nesting trees inside a reserve by illegal firewood cutters has also put the spotlight on the illegal, unlicenced and unregulated firewood trade, which must be hauled into line,” said Peg Putt, CEO of Markets For Change.

“Dry east coast firewood can come at the cost of species survival, something householders need to be careful about.”

“We need Tasmania to put in place some regulation of the firewood trade that is capable of preventing destruction of vital habitat and ensure that such destruction is not profitable,’ Ms Putt concluded.

“Despite its critically endangered listing, a revised Recovery Plan for the Swift Parrot has yet to be finalised. This must be a top priority to ensure more effective management of the threats,” said Jess Feehely of the Environmental Defenders Office.

“Strong, targeted action is needed by both the State and Federal Governments and to prevent extinction of the species,” Ms Feehely concluded.

For information about law reform actions to provide better protection for critically endangered species, read the EDO Tasmania / Bob Brown Foundation report, Critically Endangered:  Under Protected

 

Add your reaction Share