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February 22, 2024

Will Cr Reece Byrnes ‘be responsible for the death of the Pottsville koalas?’

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Koalas prefer bigger trees and do not adapt well to logging. (File pic)
Koalas prefer bigger trees and do not adapt well to logging. (File pic)

Saturday’s concert for the koalas in Pottsville had a turnout of almost 400 people according to organisers.

‘The massive community support easily exceeded the Men’s Shed push for an industrial style complex proposed to be built only 20 meters from an endangered koala colony at Black Rocks sports field,’ said Scott Sledge, president of the Northern Rivers Guardians (NRG).

Tweed Shire councillors Ron Cooper and deputy mayor Chris Cherry attended along with mayor Katie Milne and NSW parliamentarian Dawn Walker MLC.

‘The only Tweed councillor elected last October with support from environmentalists that did not show up was Cr Reece Byrnes. His announcement that he will change his vote to support developers has divided the local community and stirred up resentment,’ Mr Sledge said.

‘If he votes at the council meeting on Thursday, March 16, to allow the Men’s Shed to proceed at the Black Rocks site that would essentially hammer the “final nail in the coffin” of the resident endangered coastal koalas,’ he added.

‘The Men’s Shed is a Trojan Horse to open up the whole area to further commercial development.

‘Tweed residents may want to contact Cr Byrnes with their concerns that secret plans for future development should not take precedence over the little land left for wildlife habitat. Tweed residents are the only ones who can prevent the encroachment of the Gold Coast on our lifestyles. There are plenty of other places for a Men’s Shed, but you can’t effectively move the koalas,’ Mr Sledge said.

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  1. I have a photo of that day and these figures are grossly over exaggerated. There were never 400 people there. It was a greens rally to stop the men’s shed from going in. Many attendees were duped into thinking it was about the koalas. I personally got to speak to a few of them that were quite miffed that they were duped into coming and thought koala trees were being cut down. When they found out the truth they had a coffee and went home. Definitely NOT local people.

    • As usual, the propaganda from the Men’s Shed at Black Rocks at any cost (including endangered koalas) including our endangered koalas – continues. None of these people ever answer the fundamental questions that the ENTIRE 89,000 residents of the Tweed Shire – not just Pottsville – has the right to know:

      Why was Barry Shephard Sports Field rejected by Michael Ryan and his autocratic executive committee without EVER putting it to a democratic vote to their membership?

      Why have they NEVER applied for an alternative site? Black Rocks is temporary and Mr. Ryan and his autocratic executive continue to claim that it will take too long to wait for another site. All the more reason that they should already have applied for a PERMANENT site. But they haven’t and won’t! WHY not?

      Why does Mr. Ryan and his iron fist executive refuse to look at alternatives even though they are the ones causing this horrific division in the community.

      Why do Michael Ryan and his iron fist executive believe they are entitled to Council land when the Australian Men’s Shed’s own Memorandum of Understanding states that Men’s Sheds are to be located on Crown Lands?

      Why do the Men’s Shed at Black Rocks at ANY Cost contingent have the utter arrogance to believe that the rest of the Tweed Shire deserves no say in the matter? There are 83,000+ of us outside the approximately 5735 Pottsville residents, who deserve a say.

      And on and on it goes. The Men’s Shed at Black Rocks at Any Cost Contingent never once has provided a legitimate answer to these questions because they know they don’t have one. Their only weapon is propaganda etc on Facebook, of which we’ve been documenting and keeping track. It’s despicable what they’ve gotten away with so far.

    • What a pity we have ill-informed people in our midst defending unconscionable behaviour by a Men’s Shed Committee that is tearing a community apart, …and denying its own members the right to make informed democratic decisions on their future.

      It’s a disgrace! As are the blatant untruths about the gathering of NEARLY 400 on Saturday March 11 – well in excess of double the attendance at the Pro-Men’s Shed event, despite the Concert for Koalas conflicting with several other significant events (and we know of at least 70 who wanted to attend but had prior commitments)

      Yesterday, Geoff Provest advised that he would support an application for Lot 3 – the ideal site for a Shed and the one EVERY MEMBER BAR ONE wanted. And he would support a temporary shed adjacent to Lot 3 pending approval of the DA. There are NO environmental issues with the selected portion of Lot 3. The only clearing required is of scrub. There are NO koalas close to the selected portion of the site. There is NO contamination. (Michael Ryan wanted a Community Pantry there, so any claim of contamination is hypocritical in the extreme!)

      EVERYONE WINS if the Shed committee stops its wrongful obstruction and starts showing respect for its own rules and the rights of its members and the community.

  2. What a terribly misleading article. Firstly, there were only around 100-120 people in attendance and many left as they were misinformed that actual trees were going to be chopped down which is not the case. The group photo taken on the day amounted to around 80 people including kids. Four hundred is farcical. Secondly, how can you put Koala Deaths solely on Councillor Byrnes when he is one of four other councillors opposed to the re-vegetation of a $1M development that occupies previous farm land. To re-vegetate and find a similar sports field in Pottsville would cost taxpayers miilions of dollars more. Thirdly, you have a photo of a koala and suggest that “koalas prefer bigger trees and do not adapt well to logging” which is totally misleading. There are no trees going to be felled in the construction of the men’s shed. No logging will take place at all. It is a cleared development. The trees surrounding the oval are predominantly pine trees and not Eucalpytus trees, which are the Koalas diet. A recent council drone flight over the disputed area found no koalas in that particular habitat. The only resentment in the community is actually coming from the Pro-Koala lobbyists who live adjacent to the Black Rocks fields and are concerned of extra traffic in their street. They have even resorted to raising concerns that a sports field will attract paedophiles to the area to take photos of kids from the bushes. When you fight for the koalas, paedophilia should not be included in the same debate. In a recent article about the Gunnedah Koalas, they were dropping dead from the trees as they have no water. Climate change has affected the toxicity of the gum trees. You re-vegetate this oval and you are drawing the koalas away from their natural corridor and water access. It is a recipe for disaster to the Koala population.

  3. The Men’s Shed DA lodged by Council is publicly available on the TSC Website. The dimensions of the proposed shed are 18000mm Northern View and 14000mm Eastern View. The Shed is to be positioned on the Southern End of the 4.67ha Black Rocks Sports Field, away from the Northern End of the field where a handful of Koala Sightings have been suggested. Perspective on claims the Shed will take up most of the Field and is industrial in size and nature.

    Planned further commercial development of Black Rocks Sports Field is a farce. A completely separate industrial area is where commercial developments will occur. This is a sports field and the Men’s Shed will not impede the use of it as such. The only risk to the Field is the revegetation a minority are pushing for.

    As for Councillor Reece Brynes, Councillor Byrnes has clearly being able to see how a large proportion of the Pottsville Community want the Shed to proceed, the Field to be used and for community consultation and involvement in Koala conservation. Perhaps Councillor Byrnes has calculated the financial costs of Council not proceeding with their DA for the Men’s Shed, the costs to Council of purchasing other land, the cost of revegetating the Field, the cost of purchasing another field because Council’s sub division requirements are that each estate have a sports field. I am not Councillor Byrnes so I can’t speak for him. But if I, as a resident of Pottsville, have calculated and considered these things then I am sure so too have all the Councillors as part of their due process and good governance. Personally I think Councillor Byrnes has shown his leadership capabilities by reversing his initial perspective. That takes strength and credibility from where I sit.

  4. Facts have been omitted from this discussion.
    Alternate sites, some being proposed by those who objected to the shed at Black Rocks, have been considered.

    How can they, in good faith, take a stand on conservation given that Lot 3 is subject to a “Tree Preservation Order 2011 (Koala Habitat) ” and is subject to remediation and proposed Curlew habitat?

    “”It is also noted that Lot 3 has been raised as an alternative site for the Pottsville Men’s Shed. The following statement was made with regard to Lot 3 within Council Report for meeting Thursday 17 November 2016 with regard to the Licence for Pottsville Men’s Shed at Black Rocks. This parcel is managed by Council as Trustee of Reserve 74096 for Rubbish Depot and Sanitation Purposes and is known to be contaminated. The parcel is also affected by Tree Preservation Order 2011 (Koala Habitat) and will require the removal of trees for any development, as well as clarity on the contamination and remediation required, which should be undertaken by the Crown prior to any consideration of this parcel for development. Further, any tenure, must be for activities that fall within the reserve purpose, if Council, as Trustee grants a lease or licence. Any other activity, such as the Men’s Shed, will require a direct lease or licence from the Minister, and as the land requires remediation before any tenure can be extended, it is considered unlikely that the Crown will grant such tenure for this site.”
    The unlikeliness of Crown to grant the tenure is basedon the following wrt the preschool:
    “As a courtesy, Council forwarded the draft condition for the Bush Stone Curlew Habitat
    Restoration Area on Lot 3 to Crown Lands as landowner who responded with the following:

    ‘We have discussed Council’s proposal and how it relates to current policies relating to
    development on Crown land. It is the department’s position that the proposed Lot 3
    remains unencumbered from development on adjoining land. The department will
    therefore not consent to, nor authorise, the use of proposed Lot 3 for any purpose
    (including offset plantings) associated with the proposed preschool development. ‘

    Given the lack of support from Crown Lands, alternative solutions were accepted by Council
    officers with regard to the mitigation of impacts to flora and fauna that result from the
    preschool expansion. ‘”

    Additionally, the 2 sites being considered have been described as having “a primary purpose core koala habitat”:

    “Officers have to date, been working in accordance with the resolution of Council to locate an
    alternate site for the permanent home of the Mens Shed. Despite significant progress being
    made with the identification of two alternate sites which would have a primary purpose of
    core koala habitat but which would also have the potential to couple as a longer term home
    for the Mens Shed. No funding has yet been secured to acquire these sites noting that both
    are currently in private ownership. Councillors may also wish to refer to Outstanding
    Resolution 17 November 2016. ”

    A convenient omission?

    All of this information is readily available on the Council website.

    Black Rocks will have minimal impact on the local koalas.

    There is a Men’s Shed at Moggill in Brisbane within 50m of the Moggill Koala Hospital. Do you think it would have been approved if there was an impact on sick animals?

    The purchase of the site the sports field is on allowed Council to acquire substantial land dedicated to wildlife and koalas, If the site can’t be used then open space demands that other land is sacrificed. It’s part of responsible planning.

  5. Your story is so misleading and wrong in so many respects. There is not one person in Pottsville who would want koalas harmed and the Men’s Shed going where its been given a DA for will not harm them. There will be no impact other than construction of the shed.. No other buildings other than community buildings can go there and there are no plans for anything at the moment. Has your reporter actually been there? And 400 at their concert? They must have triple vision. And councillor Byrnes should be applauded for his ability to stand up and change his view.

  6. Dear Echo, You have seriously dropped the ball on this one. Grossly exaggerated attendance figures… Factual inaccuracies… It reads like an advertorial! Whatever Sledge is selling, I’m not buying, and I’m a green.

  7. The group photo taken by Tweed Valley Weekly clearly showed almost 200 people. Compare that with the photo of the pro-mens shed gathering and it’s clear to see which gathering had the most people.
    People were coming and going all morning. We had 207 people sign our petition and many people did not go up to the speakers area to sign so we know there were more than 200. How can anyone possibly presume to know why people were leaving? Did you interview them all? I doubt it.
    Renae I don’t believe your story about people thinking trees were being chopped down. It said nothing of the kind in our letterbox flier or our newspaper advertising. Instead the advertising focussed on stress-related disease that is killing our koalas – not loss of habitat.

    Just because Dawn Walker was invited does not mean it was a Greens event – it’s a pity that Labor and Liberal/National party don’t have local extinction of Tweed’s coastal koalas on their radar, only Greens.

    The real issue here is that the PDMS has caused horrific and unprecedented community division by refusing to consider other sites for their shed. Why won’t they do the right thing and end the community upset by applying to Crown Lands for one of the alternate options e.g. Lot 3 or Barry Sheppard – one of which would give them the site they always preferred going back to 2014. Instead they refuse.

    Why force elderly men, some of them pensioners without cars in wheelchairs, to go to a remote site with a history of vandalism, hooning and arson not even close to the centre of town? Discussion on Black Rocks has been shut down by the President. These are the real reasons for the gathering.

    As for implying that the reason for koala activists trying to get rid of the mens shed being to reduce traffic on their street – baloney! More likely that Michael Ryan doesn’t want to ride his bicycle into Pottsville to go to his shed when he can ride down the road to it.

    I have never heard such a collection of pathetic complaints rambling on about Gunnedah koalas, climate change and size of gum trees. This article is about a concert, guys!

    While nobody in Pottsville wants to see the koalas dead, their ignorance as to the causes why so many are dying is what is killing them.

  8. I do not believe there should be any further development at the Black Rocks site, including construction of such a worthy building as a Men’s Shed.
    It is not worth the risk to the coastal koala population to have this project proceed. There are clearly conflicting views on the impact it would have, but there are no second chances if it does prove to be correct that the koala population will be threatened.
    Proponents of the Men’s Shed should be open-minded enough to agree to an alternate site, even if they have to wait a little while for it.
    Future generations will look back with amazement and disgust at any decision which brings about the loss of a viable koala population in Tweed Shire.

  9. Honest scientific facts are paramount to successful decision making on environmental issues. Congratulations Cr Reece Byrnes, on getting the facts and making an INFORMED decision. As for The Echo, I encourage you to research your subjects, this is purely emotive propaganda. There is no “Industrial Style Complex” proposed at the Oval, having an oval does not mean we are becoming like the Gold Coast, allowing a building at the oval is not “the final nail in the coffin” for local Koalas, and what is this about “Logging”, the site for the Men’s Shed has been cleared for decades. Cr Reece Byrnes vote is not supporting developers, it’s just for building a Men’s Shed, I would hardly consider the Men’s Shed are developers! Clearly resources and energy for saving the Koalas, could be much more effectively directed, than this narrow focus of preventing a Men’s Shed at Black Rocks.


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