Brett Wortman

Northern Rivers fight to save Crown land from developers

THE Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition has told a parliamentary inquiry into Crown lands reform private developers with deep pockets are threatening to destroy the local environment.

CVCC secretary Leonie Blain pointed to the Barangaroo development in Sydney - set to include James Packer's new $2 billion casino - was evidence Crown land was being mishandled for short-term financial benefits.

She said the process leading to the project's approval showed a "shameful lack of community consultation as well as an appalling lack of transparency" and proved public interest was given less weight than powerful commercial interests.

"The CVCC does not believe that public lands should be seen as a resource to be disposed of (privatised) in the interests of government budget bottom lines," Ms Blain wrote.

"Obviously once public assets are sold off, there is a short-term financial gain for the government but the community has lost its asset forever."

Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass also made a submission on behalf of native animals in the Northern Rivers.

She said public concern about management practices encouraging the development of Crown reserves had been festering for more than a decade.

"There is little public accountability in relation to sale and leasing, nor on how the proceeds are spent," she told the inquiry.

"By and large we are opposed to proposals that will allow the sale or lease of public Crown land into private ownership without rigorous consideration being given to environmental matters.

"Crown land belongs to all of us, humans and native wildlife alike, and must stay in public ownership."

Ms Vass said selling off travelling stock routes via long-term grazing leases represented a missed opportunity to protect threatened species populations.

The inquiry continues." -ARM NEWSDESK


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