Hooning is back at the Black Rocks sports field, thanks to Tweed Shire Councillors Longland, Byrne, Youngblutt and Polglase who voted against Council’s koala advisory committee’s recommendation for the koala/dog-proof vehicle access gate (which was installed in September 2014) to be locked both day and night except during sporting events.
Instead they voted to allow this gate to be left open during the day even though between June 2013 and September 2014 a permanently locked boom gate was installed to stop hooning and wild parties and to provide increased protection for the resident koala population.
Since then there has been unacceptable increased disturbance to koalas and other resident threatened species, which includes hoon burn-outs and petrol-powered model aeroplanes close to their habitat, and almost 200 golf balls illegally hit across the sports field. It has also made it easy for illegal dog walkers to use the sports field and adjacent bushland as an off-leash dog exercise area. All this during the koala breeding season!
These photos show a recent hooning event where tyre burn-outs tore up turf and gouged numerous deep tracks across the sports field in a 40 metre diameter circle, as well as further damage to the grass verge of the access road where burn-out activity has resumed in previously established hooning ruts. It is unbelievable that decisions are being made to allow such impactive activities to occur within and adjacent to a koala breeding area, koala habitat, a koala corridor and an Environmental Protection Zone.
On 7 January 2015 the gate was temporarily closed and locked to minimise stress to a sick koala (see photo) sighted adjacent to where hooning is occurring and where another koala has been euthanised due to the stress-related disease Chlamydia.
Hidden away from view of residents and passing traffic, the isolated location of the sports field presents a significant risk to the safety of community members who frequent the site, especially women, children and the elderly.
The ‘trial’ to leave the koala/dog-proof vehicle access gate open during the day has failed. The only solution to minimise the risk to people and koalas is to comply with the above KAC recommendation. The solution certainly is not to remove this gate and allow hoons to enter the site both night and day (as resolved by council at their January 2015 meeting), which will exacerbate the already out-of-control illegal and/or koala-impactive activities at the Black Rocks sports field.
Furthermore, it is a waste of ratepayers’ money for council workers to clean up the mess, as occurred after the recent hooning event.
I urge your readers to ask the above Councillors to lock the gate both day and night by sending an email to [email protected].
David Norris, president Threatened Species Conservation Society