The Prime Minister's brother, Stan Howard, has been under investigation from Wingecarribee Shire Council and the NSW Government for illegally clearing approximately 70 protected trees on his properties near Bowral in the Southern Highlands.
The trees are from the highly endangered ecological communities Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands and Robertson Basalt Tall Open Forest. Both ecological communities are protected under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 following nominations submitted by Humane Society International (HSI) using a grant from the NSW Environment Minister, the Hon Bob Debus.
It was reported in the Daily Telegraph 24/3/06 that Wingecarribee Shire Council has decided not to prosecute Stan Howard and instead to reach an out of court settlement with him over the alleged offence of clearing native vegetation without approval under the Wingecarribee Local Environmental Plan made under the NSW Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979.
HSI is urging the NSW Government to prosecute Mr Howard for harming endangered ecological communities under the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974.
“HSI points out that the NSW Government has stronger powers to prosecute Mr Howard than the local council and we are calling on them to bring their own prosecution” said Nicola Beynon HSI Wildlife and Habitat Program Manager.
Only 400 ha remains of Robertson Basalt Tall Open Forest and only 2020 ha remains of Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands.
“As part of its recent native vegetation reforms, the NSW Government has promised that there will be no further clearing of endangered ecological communities” said Ms Beynon. “Private landholders like the Prime Minister's brother must not get away with illegally clearing these last remaining endangered habitats”.
HSI has today written to The Hon Bob Debus to ask that he ensure Mr Howard faces prosecution.
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