The Environmental Defenders Office
of Northern Queensland (EDO NQ)
Situated strategically right in the centre of the fabulous Great Barrier Reef, the Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland is a non-profit, non-government community legal centre specializing in public interest environmental law. We provide free environmental law advice and advocacy to members of the public about public interest environmental law issues.
Our web site carries a wealth of information about our environmental protection services, and about environmental law in Queensland. It provides fact sheets that summarise and explain planning and environmental law, rules relating to Northern Queensland's World Heritage Areas, and much other useful information relating to this spectacular part of Australia. You can join us to show your support for our work.
A PETITION FOR A CAIRNS CBD PARKLAND AND FLYING FOX NURSERY AND ROOSTING AREA:
The recent felling of 19 large historic trees on both sides of the Novotel resort only highlights the urgent necessity for establishing this parkland. We need to give the spectacled flying foxes a centralised location that will prevent them from scattering all over the CBD in search of more roosting trees and potentially into more conflict situations.
Many thanks to the 1200 people who signed either this on-line petition or the hard-copy ones circulated in Cairns. Rob Pyne, MP for Cairns, will now present the petition to the Queensland parliament. You can see the full petition at:
• The spectacled flying fox, a listed vulnerable species under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), has had a nationally recognised and long-established camp site/nursery colony in the heritage listed trees around the Cairns library and on vacant land adjacent to the Novotel Oasis resort.
• This camp may contain as much as 10% of the total Australian population of this species which has a significant role e a pollinator and seed disperser in maintaining the biodiversity of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
• In March 2013 the lawyers representing the Novotel Oasis Resort sent a letter to Council complaining that the vacant land between the Novotel Oasis resort was being devalued and difficult to sell because of the presence of flying foxes. They demanded that Council act to remedy the situation and threatened legal action if they didn’t.
• Council subsequently applied in August 2013 for approval to trim roost trees on the library and Novotel sites under the EPBC Act and approval was granted in September 2013.
• Tree lopping activities carried out by Council in April/May 2014 exceeded the permissible limits set under the Heritage Act and Council has been issued with infringement notices totalling $14,000. The contractor, Garden Friendly Mulchers, were also issued with $11,000 of infringement notices for carrying out the offending works.
• These tree lopping activities also reduced the carrying capacity of the well-established roost trees at the library and adjacent to the Oasis resort. This has resulted in the colony dispersing into additional trees, even palm trees, in front of the Oasis resort in Lake Street, along Florence Street, Abbott Street and even in Shield Street.
• The creation of a new CBD parkland would provide this flying fox colony a secure camp area for breeding and roosting and prevent the need for them to disperse over a wider area. This would also provide opportunities for tourist operators to showcase the roosting flying foxes and evening flyout to tourists visiting the area for its world heritage listed flora, fauna and environmental values. Please sign and share our petition to the Queensland State government at:
HISTORIC FLORA AND FAUNA PRINTS FOR SALE.
You can see our collection of historic prints in a Flickr Album at: EDO NQ Historic Prints
The collection includes some exquisite prints from three different French expeditions to the region between the 1790s and late 1820s.
You can purchase any of these prints still unsold by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep up to date on environmental law matters by visiting our Facebook page, which has regular feeds relating to environmental law and environmental issues.
Learn about our campaign to achieve the granting of legal personality for the Great Barrier Reef here.
If you would like to support the EDO NQ, and in particular our test cases, we’d encourage you to (a) donate (please consider a regular donation), (b) become a member, (c) make arrangements for a bequest, and/or (d) volunteer.
Please help now by donating via GiveNow:
GiveNow Progress: $24,795 raised so far.
MEET TANIA HEBER, EDO NQ'S NEW PRINCIPAL SOLICITOR
EDO-NQ has recently had some State government funding restored from the Department of Justice and Attorney General. With this grant we've been able to employ a Principal Solicitor for three days a week. We can now once again assist the community of Northern Queensland with matters relating to public interest Environmental Law.
So it is with great pleasure that we introduce TANIA HEBER, the new Principal Solicitor with Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland! Tania has responsibility for the organisation’s work in planning and environment litigation, legal advice, law reform and community legal education.
Tania has practiced as a planning and environment lawyer since the mid 1990s largely in Victoria. She has acted for local, State and Federal government departments and agencies in private practice, the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office and, more recently, in-house with Victoria’s planning department. Since moving to far north Queensland in 2014, Tania has tutored law students at James Cook University in Cairns.
Through the auspices of the Public Interest Law Clearing House, Tania took on cases for community groups and not for profit organisations, including the Australian Koala Foundation, forest friends groups and an ornithologist specialising in Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos, to help them oppose proposed developments endangering the habitat of protected species of flora and fauna.
“Whilst resources to defend the environment may be limited, our ability to form partnerships with the legal fraternity, students, academics, individuals and community groups will make the legal defence of the environment and progressive law reform possible” said Tania.
Tania has a degree in Arts from Monash University in Melbourne and a law degree from Charles Darwin University in Darwin.
SUPPORT RESTORATION OF QUEENSLAND’S LAND CLEARING LAWS
We are a big step closer to getting back adequate controls on land clearing in Queensland, but strong action is going to be needed in coming months to get this done.
Land clearing legislation was introduced to Parliament in March by the Labor Government, in the form of the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. This Bill, if passed, will restore the land clearing laws that were in effect in 2012, and improve control of broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation. This would be hugely positive in protecting Queensland's wildlife, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the reef.
Specifically the Bill proposes to overturn the 2013 Newman government changes to the vegetation management framework by:
- Prohibiting land clearing applications for high-value agriculture
- Reinstating the regulation of clearing high-value regrowth on freehold and indigenous land
- Harmonising the regulation of regrowth vegetation along Great Barrier Reef watercourses
- Reinstating the landholder liability for clearing and removing the ‘mistake of fact’ defence for vegetation clearing offences
- Requiring restoration activities for any panic clearing done since the introduction of the Bill to Parliament on 17 March 2016.
- Reinstating riverine protection provisions to the destruction of vegetation in a watercourse, lake or spring.
The Bill has been referred to the Agriculture and Environment Parliamentary Committee for examination, and the Committee is calling for submissions on the Bill by 25 April 2016. The Committee will then hold public hearings to gather more details, and produce a report by 30 June 2016. It is expected Parliament will consider the report and then debate and hopefully pass the Bill by August 2016.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW
You can write your own submission supporting the reforms to the inquiry into the Bill by Monday 25 April 2016.
Or contact Tania Heber by email or phone (07)4031 4766 if you would like your comments incorporated into the EDO NQ’s submission.
Meet with your MP, especially if they’re one of the following cross-bench MPs, and express your support for the Bill. You might also like to call their office or send a handwritten letter.
Cook Electorate: Billy Gordon - Email, Phone (07) 4223 1100,
Postal: Shop11, Post Office Centre, 94 Byrnes St, Mareeba QLD 4880
Mount Isa Electorate: Robbie Katter – Email, Phone (07) 4730 1100,
Postal: PO Box 1968, Mt Isa, QLD 4825
Dalrymple Electorate: Shane Knuth – Email, Phone (07) 4235 7100,
Postal: PO Box 1667, Atherton, QLD 4883
Cairns Electorate: Rob Pyne –Email, Phone (07) 4229 0110,
Postal: PO Box 5241, Cairns, QLD 4870
Nicklin Electorate: Peter Wellington - Email, Phone (07) 5406 4100
Postal: PO Box 265, Nambour, Qld 4560
It is vital that we show broad public support for the reform bill to those who have the power to make a decision for the better. This Bill is only the beginning but it is a vital step towards reining in the out of control clearing happening across the State.