Fuel Reduction Burning

To: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Subject: Fuel Reduction Burning
From: Lawrie Conole <>
Date: Sun, 3 Apr 2005 13:13:37 +1000

On 2 Apr 2005, at 18:37, Simon Mustoe wrote:

I disagree with Lawrie Conole that this does not have to stop - sorry Lawrie, I know I am taking you slightly out of context - but the EPBC Act is very specific in its duty of care to establish assessments as appropriate for any actions likely to have a significant impact on a Matter of National Environmental Significance. Long-nosed Potoroo is one such species but there may also be others in the area. Any action likely to have a significant impact is required by law to be referred to the Commonwealth Environment Minister for a decision on whether this is likely to have a significant impact. In other words, the State government does not have complete jurisidiction to authorise the fuel reduction burns. If the Commonwealth Environment Minister has not issued a decision and an action is likely to have a significant impact on any Matter of National Environmental Significance, then it simply cannot lawfully occur. In other words, until such actions are referred, they can and should be stopped. Organisations that have such an impact face fines of up to 5.5 million dollars or substantial prison sentences.

... and I have to disagree with Simon!

The feds will take account of "the community interest" in matters of NES, and there is zero likelihood that the EPBC would be used to stop fuel reduction burning completely in any given area. Conditions may be mandated (and should be), but just listen to federal government rhetoric on matters such as the Canberra fires, and you would have to concede that the knee-jerk reaction (ie. burn it all & often) will come before matters of pure conservation biology - and it is naive in the extreme to think otherwise. Actions which impact significantly on matters of NES are approved all the time - in modified form.

I'm not suggesting that I agree with these priorities, but as someone who routinely deals with EPBC referrals (from both the proponents' and regulator's sides), I think I know how it will play out.


Lawrie Conole
92 Yarralea Street
ALPHINGTON, Victoria 3078

+61 3 9410 9384
0419 588993

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