By Bev Smiles*

Bathurstians have a valuable opportunity to learn more about key local land, water and environment issues and projects by taking part in a regional environmental conference being held in Bathurst on the weekend of May 4-5.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) is holding its annual regional conference in conjunction with the Central West Environment Council and local groups at Rahamim Ecological Learning Community at St Joseph’s Mount.

Key issues to be discussed include mining & gas impacts, renewable energy solutions, the remaking of NSW planning law, the future of Crown Land and water management challenges in the region. The Orange pipeline and future water supply for the Central West are current issues.

This year’s conference is focusing on the important role of the community in achieving positive environmental outcomes with particular emphasis on celebrating inspiring stories of community action.

Keynote speaker is Dr Bill Phillips, CEO of RiverSmart, on ‘Stakeholder empowerment – Macquarie RiverSmart case study’.
A discussion panel will consider landscape scale resilience and catchment issues including the newly proposed Local Land Services. Presenters include Dr Anne Kerle, ecologist and board member of the Central West Catchment Management Authority. Updates on mining and gas campaigns, native vegetation issues and the newly released White Paper on planning legislation reform in NSW are key topics.

Workshops include renewable energy opportunities led by Buzz Sanderson from the Central West Renewable Energy Group, the Crown Lands Review and skills building around community capacity building and campaigning. On Sunday a half day field trip will be conducted following historic roads of the Bathurst region. This will give visitors and locals a view of past and present landscapes from Mt Panorama to Chifley Dam guided by ecologists and local experts.

The NCC regional conference aims to provide an opportunity for information sharing, skills development and collaborative planning on key policy and campaign issues.

The conference also provides an opportunity for networking with people from across the state.NCC member groups and local organisations are invited to share their inspiring stories of community activity.

NCC is a non-profit, non-government umbrella organisation representing more than 100 community environment groups across NSW. NCC has worked to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature for more than 55 years by responding to the critical threats to our environment through a statewide network of members, staff and volunteers.

For more information about the conference program and registration go to the NCC website at

*Bev Smiles is the Secretary of the Central West Environment Council