NSW laws allowing private landowners to clear large areas of native vegetation without approval are being challenged in court.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW is challenging the validity of the Native Vegetation Code 2017 which environmentalists have described as “rushed and potentially unlawful”.
The code, which was introduced earlier this year, allows landowners to clear sections of native bushland on their property without prior environmental assessment.
Conservation council chief executive Kate Smolski says the organisation is challenging the code in the Land and Environment Court.
“The rushed and potentially unlawful actions of two of the coalition government’s ministers have put wildlife at risk and undermined the principles of good government in NSW,” Ms Smolski said in a statement on Monday.
The NCC, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, has challenged the laws on two grounds.
First, it’s argued the two responsible ministers failed to consider the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
The council claims documents obtained under Freedom of Information show Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair and Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton failed to consider the principles before creating the codes.
Second, the NCC says Mr Blair did not obtain concurrence, or an agreement, for the code from Ms Upton before creating it.
But the government argues the code strikes a balance between landholders and environmentalists.
“The Code forms an integral part of the government’s biodiversity reforms, which have been subject to extensive consultation, and balances the rights of landholders with environmental concerns,” a spokeswoman from Mr Blair’s office told stated in a statement on Monday.
The spokeswoman said the code had been prepared in response to a review by the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel.