20.2 C
Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Protection promised for koalas in highway’s path

Latest News

Fast Buck$ ejected from Byron Council meeting

During this morning's Byron Shire Council meeting a dispute between the Mayor Simon Richardson and local activist and agitator Fast Buck$ over the pronunciation of Cr Sarah Ndiaye's name led to the meeting being suspended.

Other News

Eungella: Alleged domestic-related stabbing suspect charged with attempted murder

Police say a man will face court today charged with attempted murder following an alleged domestic-related stabbing earlier this year.

Jack McCoy bringing surf show to Lennox

Legendary film maker Jack McCoy is bringing his acclaimed surf talk, film and live music event to the Lennox Head Cultural Centre on Saturday 8 May.

Flawed plan

Kai Beijerbacht, Mullumbimby For those of you who haven’t been living under a rock, I’m sure you are aware of the...

Remembering Peter Warner

Ballina's legendary man of the sea Peter Warner died doing what he loved best, sailing, during an attempted crossing of the Ballina Bar in rough conditions last week. He was ninety years old.

Shenhua gone and Breeza breathes again

In a much-hoped-for move, the NSW Government and the China Shenhua Energy Company Limited have reached a $100 million agreement in which Shenhua will withdraw its mining lease application and surrender its development consent for the Shenhua Watermark Coal project at Breeza on the Liverpool Plains.

Fast Buck$ ejected from Byron Council meeting

During this morning's Byron Shire Council meeting a dispute between the Mayor Simon Richardson and local activist and agitator Fast Buck$ over the pronunciation of Cr Sarah Ndiaye's name led to the meeting being suspended.

great koala countHans Lovejoy

Following the announcement last week that the Wardell section of the Pacific Highway will proceed through the controversial Blackwall Range area, which includes one of the last intact koala colonies on the north coast, the state government has announced a suite of protection measures for the endangered marsupial.

In response to public concerns, NSW roads and freight minister Duncan Gay has announced that ‘a team of experts will be brought together to develop a detailed koala management plan’ for the upgrade. He says the appointment, ‘allows the next stages of early work to start, while the overall project is considered by the federal department of the environment.’

‘While the approved route is located in mostly cleared land we are committed to making sure the koala and other species can safely cross under or over the new highway.’

‘An important learning from previous experience is that koalas can and do maintain home ranges right to the edge of the highway.’

Measures include ‘fully fencing nearly 16 kilometres of both sides of the new highway, the construction of a land-bridge, increasing the number of fauna crossings suitable for koalas and ‘planting some 130 hectares of koala food trees on RMS owned land.’

In a letter between Mr Gay and local MP Don Page (Nationals), the roads and freight minister claims there would be ‘strict conditions governing appropriate management of threatened species, including koalas.’

Mr Gay also explained his department’s reasons for ignoring public calls to keep the highway’s current alignment, which critics such as Ballina Greens councillor Jeff Johnson say would not only be cheaper but would not impact on the koala habitat or indigenous culture.

The minister told Mr Page, ‘While a shorter route, the southern section cuts into Broadwater National Park, which has also been identified as having an important koala population.’

He also claimed such a route would be along a floodplain, and would traverse underlying soft soils that would therefore require earth fill.

‘It would require acquisition of high yield cane fields, residences and farm infrastructure… and would pose a considerable engineering risk at a much greater cost.’

Reasoning questioned

But koala campaigner Garry Owers claims widening the existing highway would be the quickest and cheapest solution. ‘They just have to add more lanes which they have room for, and it can be done quickly.’ Mr Owers, who works at Richmond River County Council, says he has studied acid sulfate soils and specialises in wetlands. He says, ‘Contrary to the minister’s claims, trimming the road’s edge would not result in having to acquire a lot of cane fields and residences’.

Most importantly, Mr Owers says the minister’s proposal would see more flooding risk than the current route. ‘Dingle Creek is subject to three metre flooding which is far greater than the current route along the current alignment,’ he says.

Mr Owers concluded that by 2005 he suspected the government had already made the current plans and was just playing lip service to give the appearance of consultation.

Friends of the Koala still not convinced

While Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass says the announcement of an expert team adds in extra measures, she is concerned about the long-term decline in koala numbers as well as the actual construction phase.

‘There are no mitigation measures while the road is being built,’ she says. ‘During the construction of [the] section at St Helena in Ewingsdale, RMS (Road Maritime Services) records only roadkill as impacting koala populations. However, we count disease and other factors. Our experience from this is that there will be a spike of mortality rates. Other places where upgrades have been done, for example at the Yelgun to Chinderah upgrade in the early 2000s, we were hearing that the numbers of koalas dropped dramatically. Population decline takes time; you can construct underpasses etc but there’s no guarantees on maintaining the populations.’

For more information about the upgrade, email [email protected] or phone 1800 778 90


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

1 COMMENT

  1. The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Warren Truss, Min for Infrastructure & Regional Development, previously, on his w’site, was a picture of him holding a koala. A Media Release 11 June 2010: Truss joins koaladiaries to help conserve koalas. “Koalas are a unique and special Australian animal which face threats from disease, dogs, motor vehicles, urban development and through the loss of their natural habitat,” Mr Truss said.
    Warren & his wife Lyn are regularly visited by koalas in their yard, prompting them to join the website to assist in conservation efforts.
    “Contributions to Koala Diaries will help to indentify where koalas are & map their population in specific areas. Being so vulnerable to disease & to urban development, it is important to gather as much information as possible about the koala population to assist in conservation efforts so that at risk population areas can be identified.” Mr. Truss said.
    Koala Diaries was launched in Feb, QLD but has expanded to record koala sightings across the nation.
    Jillian Spring, Billinudgel. 7/0/2014.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Shenhua gone and Breeza breathes again

In a much-hoped-for move, the NSW Government and the China Shenhua Energy Company Limited have reached a $100 million agreement in which Shenhua will withdraw its mining lease application and surrender its development consent for the Shenhua Watermark Coal project at Breeza on the Liverpool Plains.

Pandemic plate lickers release lockdown dessert

The 2020 pandemic lockdown meant the entire entertainment industry was cancelled, but making music cannot be cancelled.

5MW solar farm funding under question

A 5MW solar farm proposed for Myocum, located near the Byron Resource Recovery Centre, poses a ‘high degree of risk’, and could jeopardise funding for other large Council infrastructure projects, according to a staff report, to be tabled at this Thursday’s meeting.

Tony Barry, Ben Chifley and FD’s Four Freedoms

Local actor-vist, Tony Barry, has taken on a lot since he moved to the Northern Rivers, and though cancer took one of his legs, Tony still manages to put in the hard yards for social, environmental and human rights causes.