The federal environment department has given billionaire developer Bob Ell the right to clear almost 15 hectares of koala habitat during the construction of his controversial Kings Forest development near Kingscliff.
Koala campaigners have been shocked by the approval, dated May 21, which specifically rules out a plan, supported by Tweed Shire Council and many in the community to create the new township as a dog-free precinct.
But under the approval the developers will be required to submit a Koala Plan of Management and plant alternative koala feed trees.
It also requires koala exclusion fencing, faunal underpasses, koala grids and traffic calming devices as part of the new suburb’s construction.
But koala supporters say it is a missed an opportunity to cash in on the community’s love of the marsupial and may possibly spell the death knell for the Tweed Coast koala in one of its core habitats.
Team Koala spokesperson Jenny Hayes told Echonetdaily that with two new suburbs on the boil at Cobaki and Kings Forest, Mr Ell’s Leda Developments could have had a bet each way.
‘People who wanted pet dogs could have bought at Cobaki, while Kings Forest – marketed as a koala-friendly development – could have attracted koala lovers from around Australia and all over the world,’
‘With a little imagination it could’ve been a win-win, including for Leda,’ she said.
Ms Hayes said the development had a ‘chequered history’ that ‘could have been turned around.’
‘I’m not someone who believes that all development is necessarily bad but when it’s not koala friendly it’s bad – and unfortunately this bad development has hit the Tweed coast
‘It’s disastrous for the community, disastrous for the koala and disastrous for all the other native animals living there at Kings Forest.’
She said that Tweed Shire Council’s submission requesting no dogs as well as the thousands of similar submissions from the community were ignored, ‘which is a huge tragedy for our iconic koala.’
However she did say there was some hope for the koala in the approval.
‘There are certainly comprehensive type conditions, relevant to food tree plantings, which has to be in place before development takes place. Exclusion fencing has also to be in place during construction, which is a positive.
‘But with a clearing of almost 15 hectares of trees this is clearly not a koala-friendly development.’
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