The Environment and Common Sense
Most farmers in Australia regard themselves as custodians and protectors of the countryside.
Yes, mistakes have been made in the past and nobody is suggesting that the farming community is perfect. However, given most farmers earn their living from the land they are not likely to treat it with extreme disrespect.
Over many years now though, both state and national governments have passed increasing numbers of environmental protection laws that appear to suggest that confidence in the farming community is less than total. Some of these laws appear to make little or no sense and in some cases, even contradict each other.
At this stage, we’d like to shift the focus over to France. Like Australia, many European countries over the last 20 years have passed increasingly aggressive environmental protection laws and some are arguing that these have gone too far.
We read of a situation recently where numbers of French villages are becoming completely overrun with weeds in their very centres because laws now state:
1. herbicides cannot be used under any circumstances, where said weeds are near any form of water course or drain system;
2. even if pulled manually, bonfires/incinerators can no longer be used to dispose of garden or agricultural waste;
3. landfill sites and other waste disposal units are no longer accepting anything other than the most trivial quantities of green garden waste. This is apparently to do with trying to encourage more “recycling” and reduce the dumping of even vegetable matter – though recycling is often impossible given the volumes, scale and nature of the materials involved.
What this means is that much agricultural and rural detritus simply cannot be processed. So, many areas now just don’t bother pulling weeds and keeping the countryside tidy anymore because they can’t do anything with the detritus produced if they do.
Many of these laws have been passed in isolation to each other and nobody seems to have recognised their circular nature or the fact that nobody has a sensible legal option for disposing of garden and agricultural waste products. Almost inevitably, some of the laws are being ignored not because people are anarchic in nature but simply because they have been painted into a corner and can’t get out.
The danger of well-intentioned but ultimately illogical and destructive environmental protection laws has been stated before. Let’s hope that here in Australia, we can keep a sensible balance between protecting the environment and being able to live our lives on a day-to-day basis.