Council set to get legal advice over logging dispute
TWEED Shire Council will seek legal advice about the possibility of prosecuting a Limpinwood logging company for potential licensing breaches and conservation acts.
Mayor Katie Milne's motion to further investigate ongoing concerns over the actions of the Hewitville Private Native Forestry estate in Limpinwood was supported 4-2 on Thursday, with councillors Warren Polglase and James Owen voting against.
The decision came only hours after the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued both the landowner and contractor of the Limpinwood forestry operation with formal warnings.
"The EPA's investigation determined there were breaches of the PNF Code related to road and track construction and maintenance,” EPA's forestry director Michael Hood said.
"Fortunately, these did not lead to actual soil erosion or pollution of waters.”
But describing the land in question as a "really significant” environmental corridor between the Border Ranges and Wollumbin National Park, Cr Milne criticised the EPA for not pursuing the matter further.
"I really commend our council officers for being really vigilant in pursuing this,” she said.
"It's terribly unfortunate the State Government doesn't have as much - if any - enthusiasm for pursing the matter.”
She said council "owed it to the community” to see if they could pursue this option.
"We have to respect our community,” she said.
"If we allow this to get out of control, it sets the green light for other inappropriate practices.”
Suzie Hearder, who lives next door to the Limpinwood property in question, told council during community access on Thursday she was disappointed with the EPA's decision.
"The EPA are doing anything but protecting the environment,” Ms Hearder said.
"There's huge outrage in the community about the roads. This logging licence was handed out like a lolly. We feel like we're living in a polluted industrial zone.
"It's affecting our lives and our property values but more importantly it's affecting koalas.”
But Mr Hood said in considering its response, the EPA noted that actual harm did not occur, the landowner ceased operation while the issues were investigated and rectified the road issues.
He said the landowner had also sought independent advice on the presence of koalas.