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Adviser 'bloody' from NSW land changes

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016

An environment adviser to the NSW government's proposed land clearing legislation has quit his role, saying he feels like he's "covered in blood".

Professor Hugh Possingham has publicly resigned because he fears changes snuck into the new biodiversity conservation package will lead to more extinctions and leave the environment worse off.

Prof Possingham said he initially thought the revised laws would be a win-win for farmers and the environment, and still believes this is possible, but he was worried last-minute additions will create a loophole that will result in increased land clearing.

"You can beat your head against a brick wall for so long and then you decide you are covered in blood," he told ABC radio on Friday.

"I think it is better for me to say I distance myself from this final piece of legislation."

The new biodiversity conservation package due to be put to parliament as soon as next week will enable farmers to clear hundreds of hectares at a property without having to find equivalent areas of offsets to preserve biodiversity under so-called "equity codes".

Prof Possingham says his advice was being ignored.

NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said he understands the three remaining panel members are happy with the plan.

Mr Speakman told ABC radio that while there is a part in the proposal to allow clearing without peer-reviewed offsets the cost of required lock-ups of land and its ongoing maintenance will deter farmers from wide-spread clearing.

The Nature Conservation Council is calling on Premier Mike Baird to withdraw his proposed biodiversity and land-clearing laws.

NSW loses about 20,000 hectares of native vegetation a year through clearing, and Prof Possingham said that figure could even double, according to Fairfax Media.

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