More than 15 environment groups join together to protect escarpment - Illawarra Greens

More than 15 environment groups join together to protect escarpment

Read the article by Glen Humphries in The Illawarra Mercury, 18 June 2019

Watch the report on WIN News

Watch the report on 9News (Greens Councillor Cath Blakey is interviewed)

More than 15 environment groups join together to protect escarpment

The Illawarra Escarpment Alliance features representatives from more than 15 environmental groups who have joined forces to ensure their voice is heard. Picture: Adam McLean
The Illawarra Escarpment Alliance features representatives from more than 15 environmental groups who have joined forces to ensure their voice is heard. Picture: Adam McLean
After claiming to have been overlooked during plans for mountain biking on Mt Keira, more than 15 environmental groups have joined forces to ensure the protection of the Illawarra escarpment.

The Illawarra Escarpment Alliance includes representatives from the Illawarra Greens, Native Plants Association, National Parks Association of NSW, Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council and Illawarra Bird Observers Group.

The idea for the alliance came about in the wake of the National Parks and Wildlife Service's mountain bike strategy.

IEA spokeswoman Catherine Moyle said the voices of these groups were "pretty well excluded" in the development stages of the strategy.

"We really want to focus on win-win situations."

IEA spokeswoman Catherine Moyle

"What was identified was a lack of consultation early in the piece," Ms Moyle said.

"That was the instigating issue that brought everyone together and talking."

But Ms Moyle said that didn't mean the group was against mountain bikers.

"We really want to focus on win-win situations," she said.

"We're not against mountain biking per se, but against the strategy."

Rather than simply complain about being overlooked, the groups decided to band together to ensure councils, governments and bodies know who to come to in the early stages of consultation.

"Often engagement happens at the end when there's something decided already," she said.

"By creating a body of groups and of interested individuals it becomes obvious where you need to go to consult and get information out."

The uniting of so many different groups will also have benefits for more than just government and regulatory bodies.

"It's also about providing education internally between groups as well as education for the broader community about the environment and the cultural significance of the escarpment."

The alliance did not replace any of the group members, which would still be free to voice their own opinions.

"It doesn't exclude or take over any of their groups," Ms Moyle said.

"The Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council is still going to have its say on certain issues and obviously the Greens will have a say.

"We're not taking away any individual group's voice. Really it's about being able to bring together our resources and bring together networks and get in at the ground floor around consultation."