State promises to cover cost of Ballina koala fences

The state government has promised to pay for koala fences along some local roads in Ballina. (file pic)

The state government has promised to pay for koala fences along some local roads in Ballina. (file pic)

Darren Coyne

Roads and Maritime Services will cover the cost of koala fences along some local roads in Ballina shire, councillors were told yesterday.

Ballina mayor David Wright said he had spoken with the project manager Bob Higgins who said the RMS would be covering the costs of the fences.

Three councillors had lodged a rescission motion for yesterday’s meeting that sought to overturn a previous decision that could have resulted in the council being responsible for some of the fencing costs.

Ballina mayor David Wright. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Ballina mayor David Wright. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Prior to the motion, however, Cr Wright told his fellow councillors of the update.

‘They (RMS) are going to fund protection measures along the new highway from Wardell to Coolgardie which will include 62 underpasses and 130 hectares of new koala trees,” Cr Wright said.

‘They will also be fencing the existing highway along the same area, as well as parts of Wardell Road, from Meerschaum Vale down to Wardell, sections of Bagotville Road, and a bit of the Bruxner Highway going up to Alstonville.’

Cr Jeff Johnson, a member of the Save Ballina’s Koalas group, said however that despite the assurances, it was still the belief of ecologists and the SBK campaign that if the highway deviation goes ahead as planned, it would lead to the extinction of ‘this nationally important koala population’.

‘Putting a highway straight through this population and fencing some local roads is totally inadequate in our opinion,’ he said.

‘It does highlight however just how important this population is that RMS is willing to spend tens of millions to offset the impacts of the highway.’

‘However they could simply construct the highway so that it doesn’t have any impact on the population (by sticking with the existing route).’

Cr Wright said however that the preferred route had been selected since 2006 and was unlikely to be changed.

‘They were never going to go through Wardell,’ Cr Wright said.

‘They’ve met all 32 conditions imposed by (Federal Environment Minister) Greg Hunt and it’s been signed off by the koala panel.’

Meanwhile, the Ballina Koala Plan, was submitted to Mr Hunt ten days ago, and it is expected to take at least six weeks for his office to consider it and respond.

5 responses to “State promises to cover cost of Ballina koala fences”

  1. Mark Graham says:

    Mayor Wright is totally wrong to say that the RMS has met all 32 conditions imposed by the Commonwealth. The Population Viability Analysis is completely flawed in its conclusion that clearing lots of koala habitat and building the highway won’t make any difference to the health and viability of the koala population. The RMS and their pet consultants are the only voices currently saying it is all OK and that all conditions have now been met.

    The Ballina Shire Koala population is stressed and declining. In order to ensure viability and survival 3 things need to happen:
    1. No more clearance of habitat
    2. Re-connect fragmented habitat and restore degraded habitat
    3. Manage or prevent threats and stresses such as dogs and roads.
    Building the highway will result in clearance and fragmentation of koala habitat – this will irrefutably cause unacceptable koala mortality and population decline.

    Please check your facts Mayor Wright before making public statements.

  2. Suzanne Whiteman says:

    As a resident of Black Wall Range since the 8os I agree with everything Mark Graham has said I have also known Mayor Wright since the 80s and feel he is out of touch with what is happening to all the residents including the animal and birds of Blackwall Range, I was at a meeting held Monday 22 Feb with the RMS and some of the residents of Blackwall Range there is no way that they have met these conditions – I am shocked and so disappointed to here our mayor say” its all ok” – Thanks to Jeff Johnson for been the only councillor showing any concern, Hope to see Mayor Wright at one of these meetings or please come and visit me Mr Wright, you are welcome anytime ?

  3. Jeff says:

    Listening to the RMS’ charm offensive you would think they are the saviour of Ballina’s Koalas.

    The fact that they are willing to spend tens of millions of $$$$ with overpasses and fencing highlights the devastating impact that the proposed highway deviation will have on this nationally significant Koala population, not to mention the Potoroos and over 30 other threatened or endangered species and Aboriginal Sacred Sites. All this so a few acres of marginal cane farm land on the fringes of the existing highway can remain. I think that’s what the RMS (and most politicians call a balance approach)

    The variables that have been entered into the PVA model are highly questionable at the very least. Let’s hope Greg Hunt has a good look at this and makes the correct decision. The more submissions he receives in the next couple of weeks the better.

  4. Beverley Smith says:

    Thanks to Mark Graham for his accurate summary. The disruption caused by rerouting the highway will not be offset by by providing some local fencing. For the loalas in the Blackwall range area the planned new route for the highway will be devastating and provision of local fencing changes nothing..

  5. Tina Rothbury says:

    How dare they think that koalas don’t matter. Eventually we will have none and only be able too see them in pictures. I hope when my granddaughters who live in the uk will be able to see them living in their natural habitat only if they protect will this be true.

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