In his email dated 30 September, 2014, renowned ecologist and koala expert, Dr Steve Phillips stated: ‘The increasing development pressure being placed on the Sports Field (Black Rocks) locality is paramount to an abrogation of Council’s responsibilities to koala conservation in the Tweed.
‘The recent issue of the Men’s Shed in particular was/is – in my view – little more than a Trojan horse intended to establish a development footprint within the grounds, and so increase the perceived importance of the site for human-themed activities.’
At the Koala Information Afternoon at the Pottsville Community Hall on March 7 this year, Dr Phillips stated: ‘The Black Rocks sports field and surrounding areas of habitat were not affected by the fire and are now the last stronghold for the Pottsville Wetlands-Black Rocks koala population cell, from where recolonisation of the existing habitat areas (once they regenerate) is going to primarily occur.’
He advocated ‘a moratorium on development and future use of the Black Rocks sports field until this critical koala population cell ideally recovers to more sustainable levels after the recent Pottsville Wetlands fire.’
The NSW Rural Fire Service is currently assessing the fire risks of constructing and operating an industrial-like facility (i.e. Men’s Shed) in the middle of a koala corridor only 20 metres from primary koala habitat.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Pottsville Community Association and ecologist John Callaghan have recommended that the Men’s Shed development application should be deferred until after the completion of the Black Rocks Precinct Koala Study so that informed decisions can be made based on accurate, up-to-date ecological data.
The Environmental Defenders Office is liaising with state and local government on this issue.
Re Matthew France’s response to my letter of 21 August 2015, the Men’s Shed DA at Black Rocks is in the hands of the experts.
David Norris , president Threatened Species Conservation Society Inc , Pottsville