The threat to the Tweed Coast’s last remaining koalas by the controversial township development of Kings Forest is once again under sharp focus.
Yesterday in federal parliament, Richmond MP Justine Elliot told MPs she supported a dog ban at Kings Forest, while this afternoon, Tweed Shire Council will debate a move to urge the federal government to review all previous ecological assessments of the development for 4,500 homes.
Council recently voted to recommend the total dog ban to the federal environment department which is currently assessing the development under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
Tomorrow, Friday, is the closing date for final submissions on the development under the EPBC Act.
Crs Katie Milne and Gary Bagnall had called for this afternoon’s extraordinary meeting (from 3.30pm) to deal with their notice of motion for the assessment review and calling on the federal government to adopt ‘the most precautionary approach available’.
The two longtime koala protection advocates say the precautionary principle should be applied ‘particularly in regard to the Cudgen Paddock and the eastern portions of the site, due to the importance for connectivity of habitat for koalas and other threatened species.’
Cr Milne told Echonetdaily the area known as the Cudgen Paddock within the development was adjacent to the Cudgen Nature Reserve and vital for the koalas’ survival in and around Kings Forest as it acted as a corridor. She said the development footprint was ‘way too large no matter what’ and ecologists had always been divided on whether the land should be developed or not.
Mrs Elliot said yesterday she was ‘backing Team Koala, Tweed Shire Council and the NSW Opposition’ in calling for the dog ban in the Kings Forest housing development ‘to protect the largest koala colony on the Tweed’.
She urged the federal and NSW state governments ‘to take urgent action to protect the koalas and also the koala habitat on the Tweed Coast.
‘I am advised there are currently around 150 koalas left on the Tweed Coast, and our community desperately wants them protected,’ Mrs Elliot told MPs.
‘The Kings Forest development comprises four-and-a-half thousand lots on 880 hectares on the Tweed Coast. ‘These plans for Kings Forest include housing for around 15,000 people and related public infrastructure.
‘Parts of this development will affect known koala habitat.
‘Currently the application is before the federal minister for the environment, having already been approved by the NSW state government.
‘Team Koala and our community are calling for a dog ban, speed limits, corridors and overpasses in the housing development to protect koalas living there.
‘There is no doubt that these developments need very careful environmental consideration, and I call on both the federal and state governments to recognise the need to protect our koalas and our koala habitat on the Tweed Coast.
‘I would particularly like to acknowledge the great work of Jenny Hayes, from Team Koala, and Dave Norris. ‘They have worked hard to ensure that the plight of the Tweed Coast koala has been constantly highlighted to the community, and their tireless commitment and dedication has been an inspiration to us all,’ Mrs Elliot concluded.