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Koala fence costs too high for some Ballina councillors

A Ballina shire councillor wants state or federal governments to fun fences along local roads to protect koalas. Some other councillors think the costs are too great. (File pic)

A Ballina shire councillor wants state or federal governments to fun fences along local roads to protect koalas. Some other councillors think the costs are too great. (File pic)

A number of Ballina Shire councillors will tomorrow attempt to overturn a decision that could result in the council paying more than a million dollars to fence local roads to prevent koala deaths.

At its last meeting, a majority of councillors backed a notice of motion from Cr Jeff Johnson to approach the state and federal governments for funding to construct fences along local roads to protect koalas.

As part of the motion, the council will now liaise with the Friends of the Koala group to identify the priority roll out of fences, and staff will investigate the costs of installing fences, and whether matching funds from the council might be necessary to make them a reality.

But a rescission motion lodged by Crs Paul Worth, Robyn Hordern and Sue Meehan wants the ‘matching funds’ aspect of the motion deleted.

‘Council is not in position to fund and maintain a network of fences if matching funding is provided by the State or Federal Governments,’ the councillors said in their rescission motion.

‘This work would be expensive and no funding for this work is included in our Long Term Financial Plan.

‘Point three of the current resolution is also open ended and as such is irresponsible from a financial management perspective.

‘We are happy to encourage the State and Federal Governments to provide this fencing but as a Council we should focus on our existing infrastructure and services as recommended in the NSW State Government’s Fit for the Future Program. ‘

In comments from staff, Wardell Road is identified as the main road of interest.

‘Wardell Road is approximately 7km long between Wardell and the top of the Alstonville Plateau escarpment. A fence along the entire route would be 14km,’ staff said.

‘The estimate we have for wildlife exclusion fencing, as typically used by RMS costs $120 per metre.

‘This equates to a cost in excess of $1.6 million to fully fence Wardell Road, or approximately $120,000 per km.

‘This cost estimate does not consider ongoing maintenance.’

Staff also point out that driveway access would be problematic with exclusion fencing, and that fencing off entire areas could also interfere with continuity of habitat and fauna movement.

‘Therefore, fencing should also be considered in relation to safe crossing points in the form of underpasses and overpasses. ‘

The Ballina Shire Council meets on Thursday from 9am.


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