The campaign to move the proposed Pacific Highway upgrade route south of Ballina away from prime koala habitat is picking up steam.
A community forum on the issue will be held in Ballina tomorrow night, while an online platform has been launched for concerned people to lobby the state roads minister directly.
NSW Greens’ roads spokesperson, MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi, said the ‘good news’ was that there were a number of routes already identified by the environmental impact study that do not affect the koala population.
‘The minister can deliver both an upgraded and safer Pacific Highway and protect our iconic north coast koalas, Dr Faruqi, who will address the Ballina forum, said.
‘As an environmental engineer, I urge the government to utilise the precautionary principle and not risk one of the most important koala populations on the east coast.
‘NSW has lost around a third of its koalas since 1990,’ she said.
‘The Ballina koala populations are some of the only growing populations on the east coast. We have no option but to protect them.’
Dr Faruqi said the proposed upgrade ‘section 10’ takes a large detour away from the existing highway into the Blackwall Range, ‘which a recent study commissioned by Ballina Shire Council has shown is home to a nationally significant koala population’.
The MLC and Ballina Cr Jeff Johnson decided to launch the online platform ‘so concerned residents can take their message straight to the ministers responsible’. It is at: mehreenfaruqi.good.do/koalas
The community forum on Tuesday, 18 February, at the Ballina RSL Club at 7pm.