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April 14, 2024

Tweed Council seeks dual consent for land clearing to protect koalas

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This koala and her joey are very vulnerable to being hit by cars crossing roads. Photo supplied.

The impact of the Koala SEPP (State Environment Planning Policy) on land clearing under forestry and Private Native Forestry agreements (PNF) has continued to be a major concern to many councils in NSW. The new SEPP has been roundly criticised for its failure to ensure that koalas and other native species in NSW are adequately protected from habitat destruction and extinction.

In April this year, Tweed Shire Council wrote to Tweed MP Mr Geoff Provest (Nationals), Lismore MP Janelle Saffin (Labor) and the Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, the Hon. Rob Stokes to address potential issues with the Koala SEPP.

Of particular concern was the failure of the SEPP to protect hinterland koalas and the decoupling of the Local Land Services (LLS) and PNF agreements.

Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry. Photo supplied

At the March meeting Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry pointed out that ‘the Koala SEPP would remove the council’s ability to manage private native forestry and that there is a high likelihood it will lead to “pre-emptive clearing” by developers who were seeking to develop currently forested areas in the future.’

Mayor Cherry also emphasised that connectivity to the region’s National Parks and other areas was vital for healthy koala populations in the future.

The response from the Minister for Planning & Public Spaces on 22 July 2021 ‘confirmed the intent to maintain the proposed ‘decoupling’ of the Koala SEPP from forestry and land management activities’.

Land clearing at a property at Glengarrie Road on Mount Tomewin may have been done illegally. Photo supplied

Duel consent request

At last nights council meeting Mayor Cherry moved a notice of motion (NOM) asking that, among other points, Tweed Council maintain ‘dual consent provisions for Forestry, including Private Native Forestry in Local Environmental Plans’ and ‘Enable Council to opt into Schedule 1 of the NSW Koala SEPP 2021 and apply the policy in all zones as per the precedent established for the Central Coast and eight Greater Sydney local government areas’.

Mayor Cherry said that ‘nine Sydney and central coast councils have done this’.

‘Habitat clearing has been shown to be the greatest threat to kolas. This is so we can look at all of the ”real” koala areas,’ she said.

‘This is about protecting core koala habitat. If we have ground-truth surveys that [identify koala habitat and colonies this will] allow us to have better and more fine-grained protections in place. We want there to be an option for this to occur on a case-by-case basis.

Tweed Cr Katie Milne.

Former Tweed Mayor Katie Milne (Greens) pointed out that ‘while we were granted leave to include our koala plan of management (KPOM) for the coast it only includes the coast. The hinterland is not included. The codes that apply have been particularly poor in protecting koalas.

‘We had one [clearing incident] where neighbours were reporting koalas fleeing that site. Council had very little ability to access what those [PNF] agreements entailed or provide any protection [from clearing].’

Tweed Councillor James Owen.

Liberal Councillor James Owen also agreed saying that ‘it is incumbent on our council to look after our wildlife [to ensure that it will] thrive and survive. We can make sure we give people here a great quality of life and also protect the environment. We as a council do an incredible amount to protect koalas and because of that they are still here, so lets do as much as we can to protect them for future generations.’

Tweed Councillor Pryce Allsop.

Conservative Councillor Pryce Allsop said that while he supported ‘where we are going’ he had some ‘concerns’.

‘I am concerned for potential ramifications for land users. I’m all about working as a team, but not tot the detriment of people who have to manage their properties in the way they do,’ he said.

Tweed Shire Councillor Ron Cooper.

The importance of not forgetting all the other endangered species in the region that depend on habitat from the beach to the hinterland was highlighted by Independent Councillor Ron Cooper.

‘I’m worried that koalas crowd out tother endangered creatures. It has the effect of people dismissing other endangered creatures because they don’t understand their [risk of extinction].’

Ultimately, the vote was carried in favour. Councillors and residents are now left hopeful that a positive response will be forthcoming from the State Government to help protect both koalas and other threatened species in the high biodiversity hotspot that is Tweed Shire.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. I think you have made an error in your use of vocabulary in this article. Duel is widely considered to be “a formal combat with weapons fought between two persons in the presence of witnesses” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). I am not sure that the council is proposing to draw swords or pistols in order to resolve this argument.

    • Hi Con, I think it is actually just a typing error as it seems Council wants a “dual” consent process ie one in which they are also party to the decisions (I could be wrong but that’s my reading of it).

  2. I noticed a misspelled word, ‘duel’ for ‘dual’, which appears as ‘duel’ again in the write-up in a heading ‘Duel consent request’,
    but correctly as ‘dual’ in a link ‘maintain ‘dual consent provisions for Forestry’. No meaning was lost, we all know the intention, it only served to make me smile as the reality of the topic is that it is indeed a ‘duel’ with an open slather- development- focussed State Govt.

    In Tweed Council koala story

    I’m all about working as a team, but not tot the detriment of people who have to manage their properties in the way they do,’ he said.

    Also in same article

    I’m worried that koalas crowd out tother endangered creatures.

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