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Byron Shire
July 14, 2024

Staging of koala-tree plantings at Kings Forest under fire

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Luis Feliu

A bid by the developer of the massive Kings Forest housing estate on the Tweed Coast to amend its approval so it can defer the planting of koala food trees to later earthwork stages will be heard by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) tomorrow.

But the move by Leda Holdings has come under fire from longtime opponent of the controversial project, Cr Katie Milne, who says the timing of koala food tree planting is all important for the animals’ survival.

Leda wants to amend the approval given by the PAC last year to its first stage of the project (for the first 431 homes of a proposed 4,500-lot subdivision), which requires planting of all koala food trees within a month of the revised koala plan of management for the site being adopted.

It wants to defer the plantings till the start of earthworks at each stage of the development, a move supported by the state planning department.

Cr Milne says the township development, eventually set to house 10,000 people, will destroy 0.81 hectares of primary koala habitat and 6.68 hectares of secondary habitat.

‘Koalas will be under significant stress for years from these earthworks,’ the Greens councillor warned.

‘This staged approached to planting does not account for the length of time the replacement trees will take to grow and become viable as a food source,’ she said.

‘These compensatory trees should have been planted years ago when it was first rezoned.’

Cr Milne said Tweed Shire Council, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and community submissions all objected to the proposed change.

‘It is of extreme concern that the planning department has rejected all this environmental advice, and is once again, putting developers’ profits before our iconic koalas,’ Cr Milne said.

Koala campaigners fear the Kings Forest subdivision will impact on koalas from the adjoining Cudgen Nature Reserve which roam the area.

Koala numbers on the Tweed Coast are dwindling down to the point of extinction, they say, with only around 140 koalas left on the Tweed Coast.

Development, disease, dogs and cars have all taken their roll on the iconic marsupial.

Intensive

The new estate, developed by billionaire Bob Ell and his Leda group, is set to be the most intensive ever seen on the Tweed.

Stage 1 of the project application approved last year, provides for 431 dwellings across 383 residential lots as well as bulk earthworks and roadworks.

The dwellings would include townhouses, terrace houses, shop-top housing and ‘zero-lot dwellings’ (buildings that take up the entire size of the housing block) as well as some traditional detached homes.

Some of the conditions set as a result of community concerns include:

–       a second east-west wildlife corridor to the south of the existing corridor and adjoining (retained) existing bushland;

–       rehabilitation of Blacks Creek inside the adjacent Cudgen Nature Reserve (one bank of which the developer last year admitted to having illegally bulldozed);

–       dedication to [National Parks and Wildlife Service] of approximately 150ha of land as an addition to the Cudgen Nature Reserve;

–       the ‘embellishment and dedication’ of 4 ha of ‘casual and structured’ open space to Tweed Shire Council; and

–       a guarantee by Leda that ‘all management and maintenance activities in the environmental management plans would be undertaken ‘in perpetuity’.

The additional east-west wildlife corridor would have to contain koala feed trees and be specifically designed to attract native fauna.

Leda would also be required to undertake traffic, soil, bushfire and geo-technical assessments, create a sports field with a sealed public access road and give details as to how it would provide affordable housing on the site.

The PAC hearing before panel chair Garry West will be held at the South Tweed Sports Club from 2pm tomorrow (Wednesday), and is open to the public.

For further information visit www.pac.nsw.gov.au (reference: D316/14) and

majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au (reference: 06_0318

 


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