Singleton Council to repair environmental damage
24 March 2011
Singleton Council will have to repair environmental damage caused by unauthorised land clearing at Jerrys Plains Cemetery in the Hunter Valley.
A federal environment department investigation found that Singleton Council had allowed the clearing of part of a critically endangered ecological community, protected under national environment law (the Weeping Myall – Coobah – Scrub Wilga shrubland of the Hunter Valley).
“Less than three hectares of this ecological community remains—all of it near the cemetery—so any clearing can have a detrimental impact,” departmental spokesperson Rose Webb said.
“In this case, several trees were cut down, and a rip line made through a weed infestation, potentially spreading weeds through the site, and diminishing previous weed control efforts from the state government.”
Ms Webb said the department worked with the state environment department to develop a remediation determination under national environment law (the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).
“A remediation determination is a good alternative to a lengthy adversarial court proceeding,” Ms Webb said.
“It requires Singleton Council to spend $100,000 over five years on managing weeds at the site, and to prepare a management plan outlining how the cemetery’s native vegetation will be protected, including through ongoing monitoring and weed control activities.
“While it’s unfortunate that this threatened shrubland was damaged, expert advice is that active weed management will enable the site to recover, so is it is good news that this money can be put into the recovery of the site.
“This outcome shows the importance of getting federal government approval before starting any activities that could affect on nationally protected matters, such as threatened ecological communities.”