[Forum] The process of Restorative Justice for Environmental Crime has been successfully used in law as a means to have greater input into decision making, and a form of healing for the communities impacted upon from unwanted developments or processes.
Not only do direct impacts from unwanted operations have detrimental effects on the environment or human health, it is the unforseen externalities that have greater and longer term devastating consequences.
The destruction of bushlands, pollution of waterways and air, or simply poor or inadequate legislations and licensing by authorities have, and will continue to have, communities up in arms over the real and everyday threats to their way of life.
The Central Coast has been subject to, in the past, regional plans designed by faceless bureaucrats with hidden agendas, industry lobby groups or politicians with party influences blinding their commitment to their constituents.
The Restorative Justice for the Environment movement is a new means of working together for a greater and more equitable outcome, be it prior or post criminal action.
It holds promise as an alternative response to environmental crime and should include having our decision makers accountable for poor planning decisions that do not include the existing community’s interests as victims, therefore, not being totally ignored.
Having greater community input has slowly been degraded at all levels of government and no more impacting than that at a local level.
Having conferences between developers, authorities and the community offers the opportunity for any developer, as the offender, to understand first-hand, how the crime could or has impacted or potentially affected the victims, apologise for their actions and for the harm to the social fabric of the community.
Environment crime is not just impacts on our fauna or flora.
It is a combination of protection measures against poor zoning or planning practices, unsustainable development, over population for the existing infrastructure, or having biodiversity trade-offs to suit the proponent.
It’s about having greater outcomes that the entire region can be confident with and satisfied by.
It’s not about Council statistics that reflect the view of the very few, be them the proponent or community.
It’s about working together collaboratively, whereby all parties with a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve how to deal with the potential impacts and or aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future.
For example, the Vales Point power station ash dams.
As yet, the general community is unaware of their impacts on all aspects of life and the State Government or proponents have no remediation plans in place other than simply capping them with a thin layer of dirt.
Restorative Justice for the Environment should be commenced prior to, during and after the lifespan of any development that has the potential to impact on the community’s accepted way of life.
Email, June 3
Gary Blaschke OAM