Charges against state owned logging company VicForests relating to logging of protected rainforest in East Gippsland have been thrown out by the Melbourne Magistrates court today.
VicForests contested the charges arguing the charge sheet prepared by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) did not specify the precise nature of the charges.
Charges were laid by DELWP after a Sunday age investigation revealed the department’s systemic failure to enforce rainforest protection legislation.
The logged rainforest near Cann River that led to criminal charges
The court result has angered environment groups who have described the situation as an example of the incompetence of DELWP.
“The Department of Environment has taken a blind eye and hands off approach to regulation of VicForests logging operations. Hundreds of breaches have been ignored and no enforcement has taken place. This was their chance to restore public confidence in their regulatory activities and they catastrophically blew it,” said Goongerah Environment Centre spokesperson Ed Hill
“Whether it’s logging protected rainforest or bulldozing protected wildlife habitat, illegal logging in Victoria is a regular occurrence due to DELWP’s failed and farcical approach to regulation. Our organisation reported this high profile case of illegal rainforest logging to the the Department over two years ago. The Department’s failure to do their job means community groups must fill the gap.”
“Today’s court result proves the utter incompetence of DELWP to fulfil their role as the regulator. Not only have they ignored serious breaches and other cases of rainforest logging, when they finally act in the public interest and lay charges for a breach they can’t even get the charge sheet right and once again VicForests are let off the hook.”
“Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio must take the axe to DELWP and immediately initiate fundamental reform of the pro logging culture and impotent approach to regulation that exists within the department.”
“Victorian’s expect that government logging company VicForests should have to comply with the strictest of regulations, but the Minister’s department is making a mockery of the law to the detriment of our precious environment.”
“VicForests will continue to flaunt the law until Minister D’Ambrosio cracks down on her reckless department, who consistently act to protect VicForests logging interests as opposed to doing their job and protecting the environment”
“It’s time Minister D’Ambrosio acted to restore public confidence in the regulation of logging in Victoria. No longer can she allow her department to undermine her commitments to transparency, accountability and robust and effective regulation,” said Ed Hill.
Media contact: Ed Hill – 0414 199 645