THE Office of Environment and Heritage has suspended operations in the Croppa Creek area in the wake of the alleged murder of a compliance officer.
Department chief executive Terry Bailey and Environment Minister Rob Stokes flew into Tamworth on Thursday morning and confirmed activities had ceased after the death of Glen Turner.
The Tamworth-based environmental compliance officer was allegedly shot dead near Moree on Tuesday night while inspecting the area.
"We are not conducting operational activities at the moment, in a situation like this we need time for our staff to understand and digest," Mr Bailey told media.
Mr Bailey said there is investigative work ongoing but it will be reviewed internally before staff are allowed back on the ground.
"We're still required to mange the compliance associated with the legislation that we administer," Mr Bailey said.
"The second though, that we are looking internally what we will do before we take some actions."
The comments came as Mr Bailey and Minister Stokes walked into a meeting with affected staff in the department's Tamworth office.
While in town, the pair will also visit Mr Turner's grieving family who are rallying together.
"We are doing everything we can to support Glen's family, we will continue to do that, our staff, particularly the staff member there on the day of the incident and our staff more broadly," Mr Bailey said.
The department has confirmed staff have been offered support and counselling in the wake of the tragedy which has seen a 79-year-old local farmer, Ian Robert Turnbull, charged with murder.
"We are here to show our support to Glen Turner's family as well as his work colleagues and to the local community," Mr Stokes said.
"The events of Tuesday evening were shocking, they were terribly saddening.
"What we have seen is a terrible tragedy."
The pair would not be drawn on the specific details surrounding Tuesday's incident.
When questioned about the tensions in the Croppa Creek area over illegal land clearing, Minister Stokes said he was aware of the history of the issue.
"There has been a long history in relation to compliance in the Croppa Creek area," he said.
But he would not confirm if he had read letters from locals warning of the rising tensions.
The minister will also meet with staff in Armidale on Thursday.