It was a star studded cast for the launch of the mobile Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital last night at the The Farm in Ewingsdale.
From Tex Perkins to Luke Hemsworth there was excitement in the air as everyone gathered to enjoy the fruits of the hard labour and fundraising that has gone into getting the project off the ground.
Local celebrity vet from Lennox Head Steven Van Mil, who is CEO of the project and has been a driving force behind it, said that the idea for the project had started about two years ago before the devastating bushfire season. The unprecedented Black Summer fires that tore through the east coast of Australia killing nearly three billion animals just confirmed the need for the mobile wildlife hospital.
Mr Van Mil highlighted the fact that the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was seeing around 4,000 animals a year and that there was a ‘critical need for a dedicated wildlife service’ on the north coast.
At the launch, the project’s founders spoke to their vision that this is only the beginning for the wildlife hospital with plans to create a more permanent space in the future. This would serve a dual role as a hospital as well as an educational facility where locals and tourists can go to learn more about wildlife and their conservation.
Site yet to be approved
The mobile wildlife hospital went from the launch to a site next to Island Quarry on Ewingsdale Road, Byron Bay where they have been given a penny lease by a local landholder. However, concerns have been raised in relation to the possible wetland zoning of the site and the surrounding area and the fact that they have started operations on the site prior to either an access approval or a development application being approved.
‘Access to the land from Ewingsdale Road is dependent on the section 138 application now lodged being approved – this includes both Council and RMS/TfNSW approvals. A development application is to follow for the use of part of the land as a mobile Wildlife Hospital,’ said a Byron Shire Council spokesperson.
‘Council’s understanding is that the mobile Wildlife Hospital will be parked on the land in between its travels to areas of need. When parked, local wildlife carers will be the primary users for wildlife drop off for emergency and or specialist care. It will not be accessed by the general public.’
‘It is understood that regeneration/replanting of this area is to follow. A further meeting with the landowner and Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital is to occur.’
Mr Van Mil has told The Echo that he has approval to operate the mobile wildlife hospital at the site.
♦ The Echo has asked Byron Shire Council to confirm the zoning of the site and if the applications will be going on public exhibition for community feedback.