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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Food precinct could endanger Bangalow’s koalas: Greens

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Bangalow Koalas campaigner Linda Sparrow (left) with Greens MLC and koala spokesperson Dawn Walker at the site of the proposed food hub. Photo supplied
Bangalow Koalas campaigner Linda Sparrow (left) with Greens MLC and koala spokesperson Dawn Walker at the site of the proposed food hub. Photo supplied

North Coast Greens MP and koala protection spokesperson Dawn Walker has raised the plight of Bangalow’s koala population in NSW Parliament and thrown her support behind the community campaign against the proposed mega food precinct at Lot 201 Lismore Road, Bangalow.

Bangalow’s dwindling koala population was heavily impacted by the construction of the M1.

The local community have been working hard to protect local koala habitat and food trees, many of which are along the busy Bangalow Road or on private land.

But Ms Walker said, ‘like most koala populations across NSW, Bangalow’s koalas are under pressure from car strikes and urban development, including the mega “food hub proposal” at lot 201 Lismore Road, Bangalow that is currently before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

‘I share the concerns of Ballina MP, Tamara Smith, Byron Mayor Simon Richardson and the community about the impacts of the proposed mega ‘food hub’ at Bangalow, which will result in a significant loss of RU1 agricultural land, a large increase in local traffic and negative impacts on the local koala population; if it proceeds at the proposed scale.

‘That’s why I’ve called in parliament for the JRPP to reject the Bangalow mega food-hub DA in its current form.’

The development would see three massive sheds covering 20 acres of productive farm land just two kilometres out of Bangalow on the busy and treacherous Lismore Road.

An amended project plan went on exhibition on July 6 and on August 17 the JRPP, following widespread local opposition, held a public meeting to hear community concerns.

Echonetdaily understands the proposal is still with council’s planners and that the JRPP will decide the matter in early 2018.

Ms Walker said the Greens believe that while food processing and manufacturing industries ‘are vital for the Byron shire economy… they need to be at an appropriate scale and at an acceptable location, and not dwarf our small villages like Bangalow.’

‘Given koalas on the North Coast have almost halved over the last 20 years, it’s vital that we start recognising and protecting each koala population from urban expansion, especially as they become more fragmented and have less opportunity to recover as their numbers decline,’ she said.

Longtime campaigner against the development, Linda Sparrow, has created an  online petition that currently has more than 1,000 supporters.

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  1. I can see by all the koala food trees on the site just how badly the koalas would be affected.
    The anti business, anti development Greens strike again.

    • There are 92 Tallowwood trees lining 201 Lismore Road which are food and habitat trees. Koalas have been sighted on the site as identified by the Atlas of Living Australia. A healthy young male koala was killed by a vehicle less than 25 metres from Slatterys Lane on Lismore Road and this year a dead koala was found on Lismore Road directly in front of the site.

  2. I think from memory Kel there are over 90 Tallowwood trees on this site; Koala feed and habitat trees.
    No one here is anti development nor anti business but we are concerned about this development for a number of reasons. Koalas are just one.

    The others Kel are that this development is simply too big, it’s the wrong place, it will create untold traffic issues for a small village, it has over 500 car parks, and it is using regionally significant farmlands for all the wrong reasons.

    This is not a food hub Kel it’s an industrial estate with a 20 acre footprint of steel, concrete and bitumen.

    Thank god our politicians are doing something. Otherwise Kel in the lyrics of Joni Mitchell, “They’ll pave paradise and put up a parking lot”.

  3. And even if it were “only 92 Tallowwood trees” being lost, it’s yet another incremental impact that cannot be viewed in isolation from other developments nearby in the shire, mocks nearby efforts to repair and restore vital koala habitat and corridors. Just because of the koala issue alone it’s arguably a hugely inappropriate location and size.

    The proven threats to the survival of koalas across their entire range are are loss of habitat, dog attack, vehicle strike, bushfire and stress-related chlamydia which is heightened by all the above in a vicious feedback loop. Urban designs like Koala Beach near Pottsville demonstrate that is it possible to protect and coexist with koalas but sadly, are not being replicated. Koalas are under legal protections as a threatened species for nothing!

    The new and old highways are now an insurmountable barrier with no migration for gene flow or replenishment of the resultant two populations. In the last week of August 2017 I saw two dead koalas killed by vehicles between Possum Creek Rd and Sunnycrest Lane probably only 2-3km from Bangalow. Barrier fencing is incomplete, requires constant maintenance, and needs augmenting with functional over or underpasses at identified hotspots.

    In just the past five years alone, known prime habitat was approved for destruction for developments at west Byron and south Brunswick Heads. Isolated food trees, pockets of prime habitat and corridors are continually being lost through approved developments (Suffolk Park, Coorabell, Mullumbimby, Tyagarah, CBD by-pass), acts of deliberate illegal clearing (as at Main Arm recently prosecuted by Byron Council and reported in the Echo), and ongoing legal clearing of numerous tallowwood windbreaks in the western areas of the Byron Shire as a “routine agricultural activity” under the laughably weak Native Vegetation Act.

    Apart from an apparently thriving koala population around the Goonegerry-Wilsons Crk area, the Shire’s remaining koalas are pushed into ever shrinking patches, exposed to more cars, and more dogs, causing more stress and resulting in more chlamydia. Protecting as much existing prime habitat to minimise the impacts of related key threatening processes must be the highest priority before even attempting to mitigate dogs, disease and cars. The thousands of food and shelter trees planted by caring landowners throughout the shire under Council’s Koala Connections project is a massive first step towards their survival, with trees just reaching the size and age to be used by koalas, but their design was based around existing patches prime habitat supporting koalas, that would make no sense to subsequently remove.

    Failure to learn the lessons of the past 20 years of lessons in neighbouring northern shires will, inevitably, lead to the same fate for koalas here. The Tweed Coast koala population is in serious trouble between the Tweed and Brunswick rivers east of the motorway. Two years ago it was listed as an Endangered Population due to fragmentation, isolation, urbanisation, 4 bushfires (2 being escaped burns from private property, and 2 acts of arson – one exacerbated by stubbornly unnecessary backburn) + increased dogs / cars / disease which resulted in the population plummeting to 30% that of 1996 levels….or over just three generations!

    Further north there are the same concerns, and same processes occurring more rapidly along the iconically and sadly-ironically named “Koala Coast” of southeast Qld.

    We are documenting the decline and demise of the koala and so many other species, yet we have the knowledge and ability to address and mitigate most of these threats, most of the time. It appears the ability to apply sound scientific principles to urban design is being thwarted by stubborn wilful ignorance, and a disdain for other species by a viewpoint of entitlement of maximum financial reward for every square metre. Those who voice valid concerns and present facts, are not referred to as rational alternative thinkers, scientists or experts, but usually dismissed as emotional greenies or anti-anti everything nimbys.


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