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Mt Gilmore is currently being explored by another company, Corazon Mining, hoping to discover commercial quantities of copper and cobalt. Mining in this area and several others in the valley could pose a threat to the environment and biodiversity: Clarence Environment Centre

Former biodiversity panellist reveals ‘abject failure’

Geoff Helisma|

John Edwards, who runs the Clarence Environment Centre, has long worked towards protecting the valley’s environment – however, he is not confident the Clarence Valley Council’s review of its biodiversity strategy will stand up to scrutiny once completed.

Most recently, Mr Edwards was responsible for exposing environmental breaches during exploration activities at the Cangai copper mine site, which is at the juncture of the Clarence and Mann Rivers.

In September and November last year, Mr Edwards notified the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) about his concerns.

Subsequently, the NSW Resources Regulator (NSWRR) suspended exploration activities until it was satisfied the mining companies, Total Mineral Pty Ltd (TMPL) and Total Iron Pty Ltd (TIPL), had rehabilitated the site.

Come May 28, the regulator approved the remediation’s completion.

Meanwhile, Castillo Copper (the overarching company listed on the stock exchange) issued a media release.

“All disturbed sites have been effectively rehabilitated, costing approximately $300,000 (excluding GST) and environmental harm has been avoided,” it stated.

Mr Edwards was one of 13 people on the working group that oversaw the development of the Clarence Valley Council Biodiversity Management Strategy 2010.

The Independent asked Mr Edwards for a “brief comment” regarding the current strategy review.

However, he said that would be a “difficult” assignment, “because so many of the ‘Actions’ listed in Part 3 of the original strategy can be criticised”.

“On reflection, as one of those committee members responsible for putting the Strategy together in the first instance, I have to concede that there are far too many actions that begin with the words, ‘encourage’, ‘promote’, or ‘educate, instead of ‘ensure’,” he said.

“An example of the abject failure of many of the supposed actions is A.3.6 – Manage roadside vegetation to maintain biodiversity values.

“Time and time again over the years Council has received complaints about the giant ‘muncher’ employed to smash limbs off trees along roadsides all across the LGA

[local government area]

and endangered species have frequently been among the casualties.

“At Coutts Crossing it was the weeping tea tree, at Stockyard Creek Road it was Rupps wattle and Bostocks road it was Bursaria cayzerae.”

Mr Edwards was highly critical of a proposal to develop a 140-lot residential subdivision in Hickey Street at Iluka – councillors discussed the proposal at yesterday’s council meeting (after Monday’s editorial deadline), which will subsequently be assessed by the NSW Government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel.

“Therefore, when it comes to developing or reviewing any management plan, the council is wasting their time and resources, along with ratepayers’ money, if they continue to completely ignore [the biodiversity strategy],” he said.

Nevertheless, Mr Edwards encouraged people to participate in the biodiversity strategy’s review.

Meanwhile, the JRPP is expected to schedule a public meeting about the Hickey Street development on “18 or 19 September 2019 (to be confirmed)”, the report to yesterday’s CVC meeting stated.

For more information telephone (02) 9228 2060 or email