THE decision on the future of the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion has been postponed until the end of the month.
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Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has delayed her decision until October 30, giving further hope to koala campaigners.
The proposed project would clear 50 hectares of koala habitat in Port Stephens and has faced stern opposition from some local residents.
Member for Port Stephens, Kate Washington, praised the efforts of local campaigners in lobbying the Federal Environment Minister.
“Without the community’s strong campaign, the project would have been approved by the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley without any delay, just like the NSW government did.
“I thank everyone for their efforts so far and encourage everyone to keep fighting until there’s a final decision.”
Ms Washington said that from an environmental standpoint, the decision was clear.
“There should be no need for further delay.
“Based on everything we know, Minister Ley should have already rejected the project and stopped the clearing of 52 hectares of critical koala habitat.
“Instead, the battle to stop the Brandy Hill quarry expansion and save Port Stephens’ koalas will continue.”
Apart from strong local support, driven by non-profit group Port Stephens Koalas, the campaign has received attention across the globe.
A host of celebrities have also backed the cause on social media, most recently Canadian singer K.D Lang who tweeted the Environment Minister saying, ‘Due to the bush fires, koalas are on a steep decline and are facing extinction in New South Wales, due to habitat loss & fragmentation. To save koalas Australian gov must act now to prevent their homes from being bulldozed.’
Australian music royalty Olivia Newton-John and Jimmy Barnes have also been vocal in their support of blocking the quarry expansion.
“The poor koalas are copping it again, you’d think after last year’s bushfires, bulldozing 52 hectares of their habitat wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar. Please don’t take any more from them,” said Mr Barnes.
By Doug CONNOR