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Byron Shire
May 23, 2024

Mayor dogged by backflip

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Marion Riordan, Condong

This is an open letter to our mayor Barry Longland. You claim to be deferring to ‘koala experts’ in not calling for a dog ban at Kings Forest. Which and whose reports are you reading?

Are they the reports by Council staff given to councillors (including yourself) at the previous Council meeting on this issue?

Or are they the Environmental Planning reports written for Leda – by people hired by Leda to substantiate their plans?

Leda’s current Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) is wholly written by James Warren, whose own website applauds his ‘proven track record of achieving favourable project outcomes’ (for proponents?).

I have read all of these reports and I have also read the Council staff responses in their role as custodians of sound planning – urban and environmental – for the Tweed.

Their response to Leda’s Plans from 2006 through 09 and 2012 are hardly supportive – becoming only slightly less critical.

How can you claim that Council staff and independent koala experts like Dr Steven Phillips do NOT support a complete dog ban at Kings Forest?

Here are their recommendations to Council (Report Jan 2012 – p 96):

• Implementation of a complete ban on dogs within the site

• Provision… to enable additional patrols and compliance by Council rangers to police the ban.

And this is consistent with their conclusion to all of Leda’s previous planning proposals.

Yes – they do go on to offer alternatives as a necessary expediency but on reviewing their reasoning it is blindingly clear that this fragile remaining koala colony is in serious danger from the addition of thousands of dogs on their doorstep.

And your claim that Dr Steven Phillips (commissioned by Council for his Tweed Coast Koala Habitat Study 2011) does not support a complete dog ban at Kings Forest is simply a fabrication…

This study (p 63) clearly states that any increase in koala mortality (from dogs, cars or other) will ‘hasten the trajectory to local extinction’.

In none of Leda’s (or anyone’s) reports does Dr Phillips express his opinion on a dog ban at Kings Forest – but to then misconstrue this as support for the opposite is brazenly duplicitous and highly dishonorable for someone in the position of shire mayor.

This letter is not personal… I try to speak for every resident who voted for you to represent them in the way you claim – ie balanced, reasonable, fair.

We also expected you to LISTEN to Council staff who are hired for their specialist expertise.

The Tweed Council has a dark record in this regard.

Please, please do not lead us back to those times.




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  1. A total ban is not the only way to manage the situation and nor should it be considered a reasonable response by any measure. Ultimately the development is being made for human habitation and so consideration of the human element is paramount.
    The health benefits and longevity of life that dog ownership provides people saves the state a fortune and the improvement of the quality of life for people who have dogs is invaluable and any human settlement should be inclusive of dogs. Licensing, contingent on training in dog ownership, obedience for dogs, life span socialising etc plus design of the development to allow appropriate fencing but with corridors for Koalas is not a hard ask. As well as accessible and well planned provision of off leash exercise areas for dogs away from corridor areas etc (the list goes on) is very easy to achieve. Responsible dog owners should be allowed to own dogs where ever they live.


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