The Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DPI) must go back to the drawing board with their extravagant West Byron development to make it consistent with Byron Council’s draft Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (PoM).
The koala PoM requires the protection of core koala habitat, whereas the DPI is proposing to clear 4.6ha of the 12.8ha of core koala habitat identified on West Byron.
The koala PoM requires the establishment of 50m buffers around core koala habitat within which minimal development is allowed, whereas the DPI is proposing intensive development in 21ha (70 per cent) of the required koala buffers on West Byron.
The koala PoM requires that the key koala link that passes through the east of the site be protected and enhanced; the DPI is proposing intense development in parts of it.
The koala PoM requires that development control plans in koala areas include measures to limit car speeds, exclude dogs, and adopt koala-friendly fencing and swimming pool guidelines; the DPI’s plan does nothing for koalas.
While Byron Shire Council would be legally required to abide by the koala PoM if they were rezoning the site, the minister for planning is exempt from such laws and can ignore them.
This is where our local member Don Page comes in. Over two years ago he promised the people of Byron Shire that he would ensure that a koala PoM would be prepared before West Byron was developed. Now that Council has almost finalised a koala PoM the question is whether Don will make the DPI revise its grandiose plans to ensure the koala PoM is implemented at West Byron and that Byron’s koalas are given a chance to survive. Given that our federal member Justine Elliot also has legal obligations for koalas, I urge her to bring federal pressure to bear.
Council’s koala PoM is open for submissions until the March 21. If you care for the future of your koalas, now is the time to show your support for them: www.byron.nsw.gov.au/koalas-in-byron-shire.
Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay