Fighting to defend the environment

Former Sydney solicitor Jessica Wood (left) and long-time local Sue Higginson will be working at the new Environmental Defenders Office in Lismore.

Often the most vulnerable things in a community are left with little protection, but the environment at least now has someone to fight for its preservation when push comes to shove.

The first regional Environment Defenders Officer (EDO) in NSW was opened in Lismore on Monday, and will be staffed by former Sydney solicitor Jessica Wood and Lismore solicitor Sue Higginson.

The community legal centre will provide free environmental legal services, including advice and representation, information on policy and law, and education workshops specific to the region.

Our goal is to make sure there is advice available for the community to access, said Sue, who has been actively involved in protecting the local environment since the early 90s when she was part of the North East Forest Alliance. Our intention is to get amongst the people and educate them about the importance of public participation in environmental decision making.

Sue said Lismore was an ideal location for a regional EDO because it was central to a large and diverse rural area with a range of land issues.

The Northern Rivers is historically known for its strong commitment to the environment and is often at the forefront of environmental matters, said Sue, and any land issues can now be dealt with locally.

Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court, Justice Brian Preston, will officially launch the Norther Rivers EDO on Saturday, July 15, at 10.30am at Brockley Farm in Wollongbar, followed by a free practical workshop on private conservation to give rural land owners a taste of the information available through the EDO. That evening, a launch party will be held at the Winsome Hotel from 7pm featuring live entertainment from Jimmy Willing & the Real Gone Hick-Ups, an art exhibit and much more.

The Northern Rivers EDO is located at 10 Club Lane (in the offices of the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre) and will be open five days a week from 10am-4pm. A free environmental law advice line (1300 369 791) will also operate from Tuesday to Thursday between 10am and 1pm.

For more information visit the website at www.edo.org.au/edonsw.


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