PHACS ground surveys, why?

ONE of the farmers who lead the campaign against the controversial and ill-fated Priority Habitats and Corridors Strategy ( PHACS) has angrily questioned the Coffs Harbour City Council’s decision to revisit the strategy by going back to basics.

Council has announced it will conduct ground surveys to better establish which vegetation layers and wildlife corridors need protecting.

Those ground surveys will be conducted between August and November in conjunction with staff from the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

As a NSW Farmers delegate, Nana Glen grazier Gary Dew rallied opposition to the PHACS by highlighting concerns that the aerial mapping used was sometimes incorrect and the document itself was too scientific and hard to understand.

His submission to the PHACS was one of 592 sent to the council.

“I find it hard to believe that council is pushing ahead with this flawed strategy,” Mr Dew said.

“I thought we had an agreement that some areas identified in the original draft document for conservation would be wound back or removed, so I suspect that there must be an ulterior motive to what’s going on.

“During the consultation phase we were repeatedly told that the PHACS wasn’t about restricting our use of our land so why do we now need to have highly paid people walking over our farms to find trees if they are not going to lock them up.”

In a letter to landholders who made a submission to the PHACS, council’s director of land use, health and development, Mark Salter, wrote that the second consultation draft PHACS ‘will include a more comprehensive and extensive communication strategy to inform the community and the preparation of a “plain english summary” and an “easy to read “document”.’

“It just seems like another complete waste of money by a council hell-bent on engaging highly paid consultants to do stuff which should be done in-house,” Mr Dew said.

“Surely there are more urgent things to spend money on than revisiting a strategy which was wrong from the start.”

The revised PHACS will be presented to council next March.

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