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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Pottsville and Tweed Shire residents show up to save their koalas

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Pottsville and Tweed Shire residents gathered to confirm their opposition to a luxury caravan development at Pottsville. Photo supplied

The Tweed Council rejected the proposal for a luxury caravan development with 112 long-term residential sites on an environmentally restrained site at Pottsville in September 2023. 

Tweed Council staff had originally recommended refusal based on numerous issues including the ecological value of the site, tree removal, proximity to coastal wetlands, impact on koala habitat and sewerage. There had also been 319 objections to the development with issues around the DAs lack of detail particularly in relation to the lack of clarity around which sites would be for caravans and how many would be for more permanent manufactured homes structures. 26 of the proposed sites were within the prohibited wetlands area and the whole area is in the kolala plan of management and the koala corridor. 

Turner Contracting Pty Ltd property developers appealed the decision in the Land and Environment Court (L&EC) and on Wednesday (April 3) the Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court held a conciliation meeting at the site. 

The meeting was accompanied by a large crowd of the community against the development including Tweed Team Koala and Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers.

Tweed Council staff had originally recommended refusal based on numerous issues including the ecological value of the site, tree removal, proximity to coastal wetlands, impact on koala habitat and sewerage. Photo supplied

Three locals presented their objections to the development (DA23/0302) to the commissioner on site.

Josie Styles, one of the speakers from the Pottsville community said that if this development went ahead there is a real chance this koala colony would go extinct. 

‘It is an important population under the EPBC Act,’ explained Ms Styles who is also a principal ecologist with 30 years experience in construction. 

‘Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EBPCA) this is a population that is necessary for maintaining genetic diversity and a key population for breeding and dispersal. It is a population that is part of the species longterm survival and recovery. If the proposal is to go ahead it would lead to a longterm reduction of koalas and would reduce the area for koalas as well as fragment it into two or more locations. It would also disrupt the breeding cycle and adversely affect habitat critical to the koala.

‘This proposed development for the caravan park, which includes 112 long-term residential sites, will significantly impact traffic, flooding, visual amenity, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and most importantly our endangered koala population that must be protected at all costs,’ she said.

Resident male koala Odin made an appearance for the Acting Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court. Photo Josie Styles

Odin appears for L&EC

As Ms Styles walked home Odin, one of the resident male koalas, appeared opposite her house. 

‘So I ran back and got everyone to come and see Odin the koala, including the Commissioner,’ Ms Styles told The Echo. 

‘Odin is one of the resident males that uses koala corridor over the Seabreeze Estate into the proposed development area. I’ve recorded eight individual koalas, male and female, since August 2023 at this location. The proposed development is in the core home range of this koala population. They have specific feed trees in that specific area. That they go back to. 

Deputy Mayor Meredith Dennis also attended the hearing and said, ‘This development cannot go ahead under any circumstances. The community has spoken. The Council has spoken. All very clearly. We’ve all said no. It’s a koala corridor that really needs to be protected.’

Back to court

The commissioner has now informed attendees of the conciliation conference that there was no agreement reached between parties and the conciliation was terminated. The parties will appear next week in court to obtain hearing dates from the court.


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