Tweed’s koala campaigners have launched a scathing attack on mayor Barry Longland for stopping a bid last night to ban dogs from the proposed Kings Forest township of 4,500 homes.
Greens Cr Katie Milne and Cr Gary Bagnall had proposed to overhaul a Tweed Shire Council submission adopted in January allowing pet dogs on the estate, which koala supporters say would spell the death knell for the Tweed’s last remaining coastal koalas, numbering around 140.
Campaigners say a similar ban at Koala Beach near Pottsville gave the iconic marsupial a fighting chance of survival.
Team Koala president Jenny Hayes told Echonetdaily this morning she was bitterly disappointed with the vote, which saw Cr Longland side with the pro-development bloc of Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne to shoot down the move, 3–4.
‘We’ve lost a golden opportunity, because of the mayor, for council to send a strong message to the state government that we’re really concerned about losing our koalas,’ Ms Hayes said.
‘The protected status of the koala has been enhanced in NSW since the developers lodged their plan, so surely that should have been taken that into account, otherwise koalas here are doomed.’
But Cr Longland said the development plans had already been approved ‘without a requirement to ban dogs’ and such a ban would be unable to be enforced.
‘We’re talking about a township of 15,000 people when it’s finished,’ he said, adding that ‘responsible ownership is the way to go’ and his position on the issue had been ‘consistent’.
Ms Hayes disagreed, saying ‘it’s a development that could cater for people who don’t want dogs in the first place, this was a lost chance to make it a really eco-friendly development, world-class if it’s done right, instead of a ghetto.
‘There are so many problems with Kings Forest that still have to be resolved. It’s a development that could cater for people who don’t want dogs in the first place; it was a lost chance to make it a really eco-friendly development, world class if it’s done right, instead of a ghetto.
‘Cr Longland has been exposed as a big hypocrite by his vote last night on this issue. He voted for no dogs in January and in 2009 voted for koala-friendly development in the shire. I’ve got all the clippings.
‘He can’t even get his facts straight and said Dr Frank Carrick had done the Kings Forest koala plan of management when in fact the revised adopted plan was compiled by James Warren.
‘Carrick’s first report called for no dogs over 10kg, but the developers dismissed that, using James Warren’s plan instead, which proposed a fence around Cudgen Nature Reserve to stop koalas roaming onto roads or from domestic dogs going into the known koala habitat and killing them.
‘But the problem is not so much road safety, but the dogs can get over or through the fence.
‘These councillors supporting dogs there will have blood on their hands when the first koalas die from pet-dog attacks at Kings Forest.’
The previous pro-development majority on council, which included Crs Polglase and Youngblutt, controversially overturned a staff recommendation for dog bans on the estate.
The final draft of the plans for first stage of the massive development is expected to go on public exhibition next month.