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Local News

Historic Fine Issued for Unauthorised Land Clearing

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Unauthorised Land Clearing in the Southern Highlands.

Historic Fine Issued for Unauthorised Land Clearing

 

In a landmark decision, a landowner in Canyonleigh, Southern Highlands, has been fined $135,000 and ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs after illegally clearing over five hectares of native vegetation on their property. This case marks the first instance in which the NSW Land and Environment Court has sentenced an individual for such an offence.

The court heard that the landowner commenced the unauthorized clearing in two stages between July 2021 and August 2022. Despite being served with a Development Control Order by the Wingecarribee Shire Council in August 2021 and a Stop Work Order by the Department of Planning and Environment in April 2022, the landowner continued the clearing activities.

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Unauthorised clearing of native vegetation in regulated rural areas is a violation of section 60N of the Local Land Services Act 2013. The property in question is classified as a “regulated rural area” and the vegetation is designated as “native vegetation.”

The cleared area contained trees over 200 years old and 54 species of native flora, including trees critical for the endangered Koala and habitats for the vulnerable Gang Gang Cockatoo and Yellow-Bellied Glider. The native vegetation in this area was of particularly high quality, as there had been no clearing since 1913.

Chief Justice Preston stated that the clearing had “directly and likely substantially reduced the biodiversity value of the area and the habitat provision for wildlife.”

The landowner was convicted under section 60N of the Local Land Services Act 2013, fined $135,000, and ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs.

This ruling sets a precedent, highlighting the severe consequences of unauthorised land clearing and the importance of preserving biodiversity. Ingrid Emery, Executive Director Regional Delivery Biodiversity, Conservation and Science, commented on the significance of the outcome:

“This is a significant outcome which should serve as a reminder to others that there are rules about clearing native vegetation on regulated land, and that those who intend to clear without authorisation will face substantial penalties. The landowner was aware that their actions were not permitted and continued to destroy our native flora, causing significant impacts on the biodiversity in the region. I would like to thank all those involved in investigating and bringing this matter before the court.”

 

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The Beauty of the Sugar Industry

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Harwood Sugar Mill Mural

The Beauty of the Sugar Industry

 

A recently completed mural at the entry to the 150-year-old Harwood Sugar Mill is stopping traffic and creating excitement in the little village with the oldest Australian owned sugar mill.

In the lead up to the 150-year celebrations, artist Nitsua, has created an artwork that reflects the blending of the cane growing and milling activities in the Northern Rivers, that exists thanks to the all-Australian partnership between the grower-owned NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative and family-owned Manildra Group.

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The artwork was commissioned by Sunshine Sugar as part of the preparations to celebrate the significant milestone of 150 years continuous manufacturing operation and Australian ownership – all on the same location on the bank of the mighty Clarence River.

As Sunshine Sugar CEO, Mr Chris Connors commented: “Not too many businesses in Australia can say they have achieved such a significant milestone, which is why we are making the effort to celebrate and promote the resilient industry we have here in NSW.”

Sunshine Sugar and the NSW sugar industry have a line-up of community events and activities happening at Harwood (near Yamba) in August. The celebrations with culminate in a massive outdoor community event to be held at the Harwood Cricket Oval on Sunday 25th August.

Find out more at: 150th Harwood Mill Landing Page – Sunshine Sugar

 

For more rural news, click here.

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Kyogle News

Services Australia’s Mobile Service Centre “Golden Wattle” to Visit Northern Rivers Region

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Golden Wattle

Services Australia’s Mobile Service Centre “Golden Wattle” to Visit Northern Rivers Region

 

Services Australia’s Mobile Service Centre, Golden Wattle, is set to visit towns in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, providing easy access to Centrelink, Medicare, National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Department of Veterans’ Affairs services.

Golden Wattle will visit:

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  • Nimbin: Wednesday, 17 July, opposite the neighbourhood centre, Cullen Street (9:30 am to 4:00 pm)
  • Urbenville: Thursday, 18 July, near Captain Cook Park, Urben Street (9:30 am to 3:30 pm)
  • Woodenbong: Friday, 19 July, in front of Woodenbong Hall, Unumgar Street (9:30 am to 4:00 pm)
  • Kyogle: Monday, 22 July and Tuesday, 23 July, in the Kyogle visitor centre car park, Summerland Way (9:00 am to 4:00 pm)
  • Bonalbo: Wednesday, 24 July, in front of Bonalbo Hall, Koreelah Street (9:30 am to 4:00 pm)
  • Tabulam: Thursday, 25 July, opposite the hotel, Court Street (9:30 am to 3:00 pm)

About Mobile Services Centres: Mobile Services Centres are 20-tonne trucks operated by Services Australia staff, providing regional and rural Australians with friendly, face-to-face service and tailored support. On this trip, staff can assist with:

  • Centrelink claims
  • Medicare registrations
  • Accessing online services

Additionally, information about the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Department of Veterans’ Affairs programs and support services will be available.

For more information, visit the Services Australia website.

 

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Lismore News

Saffin Secures $30,000 Grant for Youth Crime Prevention

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Lismore MP Janelle Saffin with North-Tracks Works Chair Patrick Higgins, Secretary/board member Kevin Bell and Mr Bell’s working dog Maezzie. - Youth Crime Prevention

Saffin Secures $30,000 Grant for Youth Crime Prevention

 

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has successfully secured a $30,000 grant for North-Tracks Works, a Lismore-based organisation dedicated to empowering vulnerable young people. This funding will enable the expansion of their life-changing programs to engage more youth in Goonellabah, Coraki, and Casino.

Ms. Saffin expressed her gratitude to NSW Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism Yasmin Catley for approving the grant following her advocacy on behalf of North-Tracks Works. She praised the organisation, which operates out of a shed in South Lismore, for its impactful work with young people aged 11 to 18, offering one-on-one support, mentoring, and practical learning opportunities.

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“I previously secured a $44,000 Local Small Commitments Allocation grant to help North-Tracks purchase equipment and materials for skill-building,” Ms. Saffin said. “This additional grant will allow North-Tracks to employ youth workers and expand their proven youth program, which is supported by Richmond Police District Commander Superintendent Scott Tanner.”

Patrick Higgins, Chair of North-Tracks Works and a local real estate agent, thanked Ms. Saffin for her efforts in securing the additional funding from Minister Catley. “We don’t fit in the box for normal funding. Our approach is about creating a sense of belonging and purpose through our skills program and training working dogs. It’s the work with the dogs that bridges the gap,” Mr. Higgins explained.

“At North-Tracks, we spend 10 percent looking back, 10 percent at where you are now, and 80 percent looking forward. We help them chase their dreams and goals,” he added. “Our team has three basic goals: keep them safe and alive, keep them out of jail, and help them move forward to live a full and productive life.”

This funding is set to sustain and expand North-Tracks Works’ impactful initiatives, providing more opportunities for at-risk youth to gain essential skills and find a sense of purpose and for Youth Crime Prevention.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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