The NSW Government has come to an agreement on the details of the koala protection policy after infighting that saw Deputy Premier John Barilo take four weeks personal leave.
Both the Liberal and National party arrived at what they're calling a 'balanced outcome' in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday 6th October.
Acting Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the agreement will protect koalas and protect farmer's property rights.
“The new agreement will separate land management and private native forestry from the SEPP so farmers can continue their farming operations without getting weighed down in green tape,” Mr Toole said.
The State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 will retain the 123 tree species that have been scientifically proven to be critical to koala survival.
However several other amendments will be made including redefining the definition of 'core koala habitat' meaning it must be either a highly suitable habitat and koalas are present, or highly suitable habitat and there is a verified record of koalas.
Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and Chair of the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Koalas said habitat protection is critical.
“I fail to see how the Environment Minister is going to keep koala numbers stable let alone double their numbers by 2050 if he can’t get his government to stick to what the experts are telling them is needed to save koalas and their habitat,” Ms Faehrmann said.
Adam Marshall, NSW Minister for Agriculture and Member for the Northern Tablelands, said the SEPP is still going ahead, however, it will not negatively impact farmers across the state.
"What it means in practice is it provides certainty for all farmers across the state," Mr Marshall said, "Agricultural activities will continue to be regulated in the future as they are now under the governments Land Management Framework and Land Management Code."
Farmers can continue to work their land as they do now without any confusion or impact from the new SEPP Mr Marshall explained.
"The SEPP will not take effect in NSW until the legislative amendments pass through parliament hopefully in the coming weeks," Mr Marshall said.
Other amendments include;
- Decoupling the Private Native Forestry and the Land Management Codes within the Local Land Services Act 2013 from the Koala SEPP on the basis robust protections already exist
- Strengthening landholder rights when a local council creates a Koala Plan of Management by extending minimum exhibition timeframes, introducing clear dispute pathways for landholders and ensuring they can access ecologists or use their own to appeal or object to what a council has put forward
- Removing the pink Development Application Map in favour of returning to an on-the-ground survey method
- Refining the blue Site Investigation Map and making it available to local councils.