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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

Kings Forest gets green light to clear koala habitat

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The federal environment department has given Kings Forest developer Leda the green light to clear nearly 15 hectares of koala habitat. File photo
The federal environment department has given Kings Forest developer Leda the green light to clear nearly 15 hectares of koala habitat. File photo

Chris Dobney

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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7 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely disgusting! It just goes to prove that our government is in bed with big developers and is in fact fascist, not democratic. They don’t listen to what we say just pretend to want to know by asking us to waste our time making submissions that they ignore.

    Not a word about all the endangered wallum sedge frogs that will be buried by millions of tonnes of soil as they level the site.

    This is a very bad day and shows that we can’t rely on our government to protect threatened species – at all!!!

    Shame on the Fed Gov!

  2. There should be a chance to appeal on the Minister’s decision. If there are issues not addressed then please submit and appeal.

  3. What a disgrace.

    Death by a thousand cuts in its true form. Why do people move to the Tweed Coast? For the beautiful surroundings and nature. This development is destroying the very reason people love living on the Tweed Coast. Doesn’t make any sense.

  4. Again, no heed paid to the science or local requirements /requests, this development rides rough shod over both. What on earth is ” comprehensive type conditions” poor grammar let alone relevance to situation. No koala feed trees will grow in the time it takes to plunder & clear that land. This is shameful evidence of “money talks, b.s. Walks. Except it is too serious to refer to lightly.

  5. I’m gobsmacked by the govt giving approval for this….but totally not surprised! How disappointing. How out of touch. And how two-faced for Abbott to be photographed hugging a koala! He should be seen hugging a sack of gold a la Scrooge!!!

  6. In t his day and age, anything that is not enhancing our wonderful koala ‘s habitat is disgraceful, the general busy population think that our councillors are learned and will protect such uniqueness, but low and behold its disappearing rapidly, then they will all jump up and down and wonder what happened, koalas have been decimated far too much already, each and every koala that remains should be protected to the enth degree without fail and immediately, will these developers be around when our grandchildren wondered how this could happen. Develop somewhere else, protect and care for koala habitats every inch. NOW. It is gone forever, it cannot be replaced.

  7. Re Peter’s comment above, I think the only option to appeal the approval is through the Federal Court (Chp 15 of the EDO’s Environmental Handbook, on the internet), which is very expensive. But, in view of the significant impact that the approved development is likely to have on koalas, perhaps some funds could be raised. Appeal grounds can be failure to take a relevant consideration into account, or granting an approval that is inconsistent with a Recovery Plan. Issues that could be addressed would be the long time before the created koala habitat might become suitable for koala feeding, breeding and shelter from high temperatures (have a look at Koalas for coal: Will it come to this in NSW?, https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/koalas-for-coal-has-it-come-to-this-in-nsw,7745), or the Council’s submission requiring a dog-free development, and many other issues (see above article). For the Wallum Sedge Frogs, there are several issues that were not adequately addressed (https://www.echo.net.au/2015/05/kings-forest-gets-green-light-to-clear-wallum-sedge-frog-habitat/). In addition, the approval does not distinguish between breeding and non-breeding WSF habitat. Given the wide definition of WSF habitat, it is possible that all of the habitat currently used by the WSFs for breeding could be destroyed, with only non-breeding habitat remaining. In its current form, this approval is likely to be devastating for both threatened species.

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