New South Wales

Singleton Council ordered to repair environmental damage

SINGLETON Council will have to repair environmental damage caused by unauthorised land clearing of land protected under national environment law at Jerrys Plains Cemetery in the Hunter Valley.

A federal environment department investigation found that the Council allowed the clearing of part of a critically endangered ecological community, protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

"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," departmental environment spokesperson Rose Webb said.

Ms Webb said that less than three hectares of the ecological community remains – all of it near the cemetery – with any clearing having the potentially to cause a detrimental impact.

Ms Webb said the department worked with the state environment department to develop a remediation determination under national environment law, calling it a good alternative to "a lengthy adversarial court proceeding."

Singleton Council will be required 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

"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," Ms Webb said.

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