A move to ban dogs from the proposed 4,500-lot Kings Forest housing development to give a dwindling koala population there a fighting chance of survival will be considered by Tweed Shire councillors this week.
It is part of a bid to overhaul a previous Tweed Council submission adopted in January allowing pet dogs, which Greens Cr Katie Milne and koala campaigners say would spell the death knell for the Tweed’s last remaining coastal koalas.
Council planners had originally recommended a dog ban for the massive development, fearing for the future of the koalas, but a previous pro-development majority of councillors controversially overturned it.
Cr Milne says her move follows a recent council application to have the koalas on the Tweed Coast, said to number around 140, declared endangered.
But koalas are not the only ‘serious’ concern from the big development by the Leda group. Cr Milne says the whole biodiversity of the area is threatened by the development, including other threatened species and marine ecology.
If her move succeeds, council will write to the planning minister to ‘express serious concerns’ with the greenfield development.
Cr Milne also asks council to call on the department to seek specialist advice on improving sustainability outcomes from the development.
She also wants council to adopt policies that improve environmental outcomes from such greenfield developments, including ecological sustainability and community health planning.
In 2006, the state environment department recommended development should be excluded from the area known as the Cudgen Paddock and the eastern side of the Kings Forest site, which abut the Cudgen Nature Reserve.
Cr Milne also wants that recommendation reinstated.
Since then, however, the developer has admitted that some of its staff were responsible for ‘accidentally’ bulldozing a 300-metre stretch of protected vegetation along a creek inside the nature reserve, but the state government is yet to prosecute them over it.
The incident occurred well over a year ago and repeated calls by Echonetdaily to the environment department and minister’s office to see what was being done about it were met with the same answer: that the investigation is ‘ongoing’.
The issue has also been raised in parliament several times, the latest by former Byron Shire mayor, Greens MLC Jan Barham.
Ms Barham earlier this month asked minister for the far north coast, Don Page, if he had made any representations or expressed his concerns ‘about activities in Tweed Shire Council areas of repeated alleged activities by a developer who has removed vegetation from Cudgen Nature Reserve’.
She told parliament the developer also had recently allegedly ‘unlawfully built a 20-metre wide road at Cobaki’, another major housing development currently being planned and built by Leda, west of Tweed Heads, for 5,000 homes.
‘Have those matters been brought to your attention? Will you take up action with the relevant minister about these alleged actions by Leda that are going unaddressed by Tweed Shire Council?’ Ms Barham asked.
Mr Page said he was ‘happy to take that up’ on her behalf.