Joan Vickers, Harlaxton, QLD
Last week I received advice from the federal EPBC (Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Dept) that they are finalising their assessment of the Kings Forest referral. As the further information they had sought from the proponent has now been supplied, they intend to make a decision in the next fortnight as to whether the development is a controlled action.
What is a controlled action? It’s a proposed action (eg housing development) that is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance (according to EPBC Act guidelines).
In Kings Forest, the matters of national environmental significance are two vulnerable species – koalas and wallum sedge frogs – and one threatened ecological community, endangered littoral rainforest.
Why is it important that Kings Forest be a controlled action? Being a controlled action means another layer of protection for koalas and wallum sedge frogs in Kings Forest, and possibly in the adjacent Cudgen Nature Reserve as well. For example, the decision to allow dogs in Kings Forest may have to be re-assessed, because dogs are likely to have a significant impact on the koala population. Illegal clearing, or suspicious fires which significantly impact koalas, wallum sedge frogs or the littoral rainforest could be punishable by up to $550,000 for an individual or $5.5 million for a corporation.
This may sound like wishful thinking, but controlled action status for Kings Forest would certainly be a step in the right direction for this huge development in an environmentally sensitive part of the Tweed coast.