The NEC President’s NOV Update

NEC News for NGT November 2023

by Scott Sledge, President

Mainstream news claims that 2023 will be the hottest year in recorded history. The Greens say we must reduce emissions as soon as possible, but Labor is trying to delay reaching net zero until 2050. We are in a climate emergency, but Labor is taking us backwards, as Sue Higginson observes here. They are proposing laws that are even weaker than the former LNP Government’s and will breach the Paris Agreement.

It is hard for me to believe that Labor might be weaker than the Coal-ition in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, but then I thought the nation would endorse a Referendum to recognise the first inhabitants of Australia. In the lead-up to that vote I was accosted by someone who said I would lose my land and be deported if Yes got a majority: I told her I didn’t believe that. She said she was a “sovereign”and that and that I had “bought the narrative. “I suggested she might be inclined to drink the Koolaid. Her response made me think she didn’t know about Jonestown, 1978. Google it if you don’t know. Cult leader Jim Jones instructed his followers to drink poisoned Koolaid, and about 900 complied. Back to the climate, I believe “the narrative” that the Antarctic ice shelf is melting due to global warming and the sea level is rising. I am not too worried because Nimbin is well above the heights predicted, but I know that the biosphere is fighting to survive. I am rather fond of most species and feel distressed to hear that some are going extinct. I am heartened, though, by scientists and concerned citizens who have gone out of their way to help. Some have even been successful—like recolonising coral onto reefs that were dead, due to the warming and acidifying of sea water.

Both state and federal governments continue to approve new fossil-fuel projects that contribute to harmful emissions. I realise that politics is the art of compromise—and getting re-elected—but even some of the corporate chieftains (and donors!) are saying we need to change if we want our children and grandchildren to live in a sustainable world. Maybe we can avoid catastrophe if we ban donations to political parties. That would probably change the typical political narrative.

NCC Picnic for Nature. This event started in 2022 to bring people together, celebrate nature, grow the movement, and talk about what actions local groups were taking that could lead to wins for nature in NSW. It was a Community Picnic, part ofa state-wide initiative by NCC (Nature Conservation Council of NSW. Last year more than 1,000 people attended 40 community picnics across NSW. Similar to last year, we gathered on Sunday 15th October under the Nimbin Rocks on Widjabul-Waiabal land where the Ngulingah Native Plant Nursery was open for browsing and purchases and the NEC provided free chai. About 60 people attended and enjoyed the experience. The Vocal Minority choir from Nimbin performed after a welcome by Mark Roberts. The day celebrated the natural beauty of our local area and community connection. The picnic had perfect weather for people from around the district to get together and talk about what we can do to protect nature and act on climate change.

Water restrictions eased. Much of the statehas experienced a very dry year. Level 2 water restrictions in Nimbin village have just been lifted. However, concerns remain how the limited water supply from the small weir on Mulgum Creek will be able to provide for the needs of future developments already approved but yet to be built.

NEC wants to know what effect water mining has on the levels of the underground water. While NSW has legislated no expansion in Tweed Shire of existing water bores for commercial purposes, i.e. bottled water, Qld has no such restriction and further licences are pending on the Gold Coast.

According to a UN report, Australians, on average, spend over $500 per year buying 500 litres of bottled water. The bottled water industry pockets over $650 million/annum. Australia has the most expensive water with most of the cost in the packaging. Despite the 10 cent bottle refund, the waste disposal of plastic rubbish is not adequate for the cost to the environment. Australia has good clean tap water so refilling a reusable bottle protects the environment and your wallet.

The Wallum Estate. This DA in Byron Shire was approved by the Northern Regional Planning Panel. Byron Council is now seeking legal advice, with some claiming “they were unaware of the significance of the land” and are now motivated to seek a reversal. Greens MLC Sue Higginson has referred the DA to the federal government for investigation under the EPBC. The Northern Rivers Guardians wrote to Member for Justine Elliott and Member for Page Kevin Hogan to support protecting this area where numerous threatened species remain as an Endangered Ecological Community(EEC). There is little left of the original and unique natural coastal habitat as humans have cleared most of it and we think that already degraded land should be used for housing development. This development does not pretend to target low-income buyers which might ease the shortage of affordable houses, but promises to leave some of the property “in pristine condition.” A recent Byron Council meeting voted unanimously to oppose this development.

Redbank Power Station. The Redbank coal-burning electricity plant near Singleton NSW in the Hunter Valley, in “care and maintenance” for 10 years, has applied to restart using “biomass (excluding native forest residues from logging)”… to produce “green electricity” for 200,000 homes .

Jackson Environment and Planning Pty Ltd has been engaged by Verdant Earth Technologies Limited (Verdant) to assist in the state significant development approval for its project at 112 Long Point Road West, Warkworth (Lot 450/DP 1119428).

Verdant has acquired the power station and claims it will burn “a sustainable fuel to produce near net zero CO2 emissions” and enable the power station to continue to produce “green” electricity on an ongoing basis. Jackson is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Development Application. One of the requirements of the EIS process is to consult with various interest groups. The state government will decide, but one wonders how this project will ever make ecological sense.