Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass has acknowledged the support of minister for local government, Don Page, for a Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) for the West Byron Urban Release Area.
On Monday the minister announced he would require a State Environmental Planning Policy Koala Habitat protection (SEPP 44), under which KPoMs are prepared, for the development.
The minister’s announcement followed pressure on Friday by Byron Environmental and Conservation Organization (BEACON) to withdraw the plan from exhibition until the matter had been resolved.
Ms Vass told Echonetdaily yesterday that no development approval should be given to the site and no clearing should take place until the developer had in place a suitable plan of management.
‘From our point of view, we’re saying the developers want to gallop ahead, get the rezoning in place and then worry about the plan of management, even though they concede there is core koala habitat on the site.
‘To leave preparation of a KPoM to a later stage will consign it the all-too-common “here’s hoping the koalas will cope with the development as it has been designed” approach,’ Ms Vass said.
‘What we are advocating for right now is that the minister insist the developers draw up a koala plan prior to his considering the application.
‘It is therefore essential that a KPoM be prepared for the site now before the land is rezoned so that any development proposed is planned around the biodiversity needs and constraints of the site.’
BEACON spokesperson Dalian Pugh said on Friday that the developers of the proposed West Byron suburb have identified that koalas inhabit the centre of the site and that core koala habitat is present.
‘This is also a key link in a koala corridor between Tyagarah Nature Reserve to the north and Cumbebin Swamp and Lilly Pilly to the south.’
Mr Pugh said, ‘the developers of West Byron are proposing clearing half a hectare of core koala habitat and allowing high-density development surrounding the rest. They recognise that a KPoM is required for the future development of the area. They also identified the need for further work to resolve the extent of core habitat.