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Submission to the Pastoral Land Board - Conway Country Corp Pty Ltd – Application to clear pastoral land (s38(1)(h)) on Conway Station

On 8 October 2021 Environment Centre NT drafted a submission to the Pastoral Land Board regarding Conway Country Corp Pty Ltd's application to clear pastoral land (s38(1)(h)) on Conway Station.

A summary of the submission to the Pastoral Land Board is below or download the full letter here.

The Environment Centre NT (ECNT) is the peak community sector environment organisation in the Northern Territory of Australia, raising awareness among community, government, business, and industry about environmental issues. We assist people to reduce their environmental impact and support community members to participate in decision-making processes and action. Thank you for the opportunity to provide a comment on the application (Application) of Conway Country Corp Pty Ltd. (the proponent) to the Pastoral Land Board (PLB) for a permit to clear Pastoral Land under section 38(1)(h) of the Pastoral Land Act 1992 (NT) in respect of Conway Station Pastoral Lease 1187. ECNT notes that the NT Government’s Land Clearing Guidelines were developed to ‘assist in preventing environmental degradation associated with clearing and help to support the sustainable development of the Northern Territory’s natural resource-based economy’.1 It is evident from the content of the proponent’s application that the issuing of a land clearing permit would not give effect to the purpose of these Guidelines. This is due to the lack of information regarding intended methods to improve pasture provided to the PLB. In s 10 and 11 of the application, regarding land and weed management, the proponent provides limited operational information beyond noting that a Katherine Based Agronomist (EE Muir and Sons) will ‘provide advice on pasture selection, weed control, crop trials and best practice agricultural land management.’ The application makes a single reference to fast growing grass or legumes as a potential crop. In addition, while the use of chemicals regarding weed management is regularly referenced, no specific chemicals are listed for assessment.

Northern Territory Government, Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security, ‘Land Clearing Guidelines: Northern Territory Planning Scheme’, last amended 24 September 2021.

The proponent has provided inadequate information to assess whether environmental degradation will be prevented and how this will help to achieve the sustainable development of the Northern Territory’s natural resource-based economy. Naturally, if the method of pasture improvement is not explicit nor transparent, associated issues regarding land capability, greenhouse gas emissions, heritage assessments or biodiversity impacts cannot adequately be considered. ECNT submits that this application should be refused, and the proponent should not be permitted to clear pastoral land until they provide transparent, defined, and detailed evidence of their intended method of pasture improvement.

Acknowledging the effect of limited operational information, ECNT has further concerns including:

1. Biodiversity Values

2. Riparian Communities and Water and Springs

3. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

4. Land Capability vs Land Suitability

5. Heritage Assessment

6. Unregulated Clearing.

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