Court rules that South East Forest Rescue can sue NSW Forestry Corporation for breaching environment protection laws

Australian Greens

The South East Forest Rescue (SEFR) will be allowed to continue their prosecution of the NSW Forestry Corporation after the Court of Appeal overturned an earlier decision by the Land and Environment Court (LEC). The original decision, that SEFR did not have standing to bring the prosecution, was overturned based on evidence that the group is an appropriate litigant when it comes to offences committed against forests by the NSW Forestry Corporation.

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said “The anti-democratic limitations to standing were introduced by a previous Labor Government and were designed to prevent the community from accessing the courts to enforce and uphold our environmental protection laws against the NSW Forestry Corporation,”

“For decades now, local communities and conservationists have had to rely on the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) as the only law enforcer of the Forestry Corporation. The EPA is not quick to respond and more often than not has been reluctant to prosecute,”

“This has led to unlawful harm, environmental degradation, a Forestry Corporation that acts with impunity and communities having to put their lives on hold and their bodies on the line to protect our forests,”

“The politics and laws around native forest extinction-logging are so broken and toxic that just yesterday in Parliament, the Minister for the Environment claimed that she did not have powers to direct the EPA to prevent breaches of the law, this is simply not true,”

“If the Government and its agencies are unwilling to pursue the people and corporations that break environmental protection law, then the community must be allowed to fill that gap and take the action that is necessary,”

“This decision of the Court of Appeal means that SEFR will be heading back to court armed with all of their evidence that the Forestry Corporation has been failing in their obligations to uphold environment protection laws,”

“The NSW Government needs to now do away with the ridiculous and prohibitive sections of the law that seek to stop the community from upholding our environmental laws in the courts. It has been proved time and again that the community cares more for the environment and its protection than the Government and should be allowed to pursue justice,” Ms Higginson said.

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