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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

State govt must prosecute: Milne

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[author]Steve Spencer[/author]

Greens councillor Katie Milne wants an assurance from the NSW government that the recent clearing in the Cudgen Nature Reserve, near Leda’s Kings Forest site, will be prosecuted.

She says that koalas north of the Tweed (near where one of the proposed developments would be sited) could be extinct in as little as five years.

And she has called for an independent inquiry into the approval of two massive Tweed housing developments controlled by Leda.

Cr Milne said it was ‘absolutely imperative’ an investigation be held into the approval process which gave the green light to the Kings Forest and Cobaki developments.

‘It is my belief that Leda’s development interests have clearly prevailed over the right of the Tweed community to retain their coastal koalas and jeopardises hundreds of other species,’ she said.

‘It is imperative that an investigation be held into the approvals on the grounds of abject neglect of the environment and inadequate community consultation.

‘Both of these 5,000-lot developments occur adjacent to two vitally important bastions for coastal koalas, both north and south of the Tweed River.’

Cr Milne believes no bias was shown towards the developer.

‘My concerns, in contrast to Leda’s widely reported concerns, relate to the bias that in my opinion as a councillor has been shown towards this developer, rather than against him,’ she said.

‘The Woodward Investigation 2005 criticised Tweed Council’s inappropriate zoning and called for urgent backzoning of the sensitive coastal fringe. It emphasised that council was running out of time, yet this report was never bought to the attention of councillors.

‘There is clear evidence from an FOI application by the Greens of the NSW Department of Planning simply overriding the Department of Environment’s concerns in the 2006 zoning amendment for Kings Forest.

‘The adverse findings from three separate professional ecologists were simply disregarded during this process. Similar concerns for Cobaki were also disregarded in approvals.’

Cr Mine said council’s latest koala study showed that unless aggressive protective action is taken, coastal koalas will be extinct north of the Tweed River in five to ten years, and south of the river in 20–30 years.

‘Thousands of Tweed residents objected to these developments due to the impacts on koalas and numerous other threatened species.

‘I also seek assurance from the state government that the recent clearing in the Cudgen Nature Reserve, abutting this Kings Forest site, will be prosecuted as a serious offence. The culprit must not get off with just a slap on the wrist or small fine for what was done to this beautiful, densely forested area and to these koalas.’

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