Quarry Wins Federal Ministers Decision at Brandy Hill While Community Vows To Fight On

A koala in the wild. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

IN the case of koalas versus the quarry, the Australian iconic has taken second place.

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52 hectares of core koala habitat was green lighted last week to be cleared for the expansion of a quarry in Brandy Hill by Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

However, the community says the fight isn’t over yet.

The public outcry to the quarry expansion decision has inspired local action groups to continue campaigning and are currently working on strategies to stop the loss of this koala habitat.

Chantal Paslow, a key local spokesperson for the Save Port Stephens Koalas campaign, told News Of The Area, “The Minister has chosen rocks over koalas.

“This fight isn’t over yet, we have commenced a petition on change.org.

“We had hoped that this would be a turning point; the community feels the government still made the wrong decision,” said Chantal.

Kate Washington, Member for Port Stephens and Shadow Minister for the Environment told News Of The Area, “The community campaign has been long and hard and they are looking to see what options come next.”

Minister Ley has claimed that the decision is a good outcome for the Port Stephens koala population.

“The clear finding from the NSW Government and the Commonwealth Department is that Brandy Hill’s expansion, to be staged over the next 25 years, will not rob the area of critical koala habitat.

“The 74 hectare koala corridor can however play an important role in nurturing local populations and in delivering a net gain for local koalas by providing better quality habitat than is there at present,” she said.

A report on the Habitat Utilisation by Koalas in the proposed Brandy Hill quarry expansion site was prepared for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment by Biolink Ecological Consultants.

The report determined that as few as one or two koalas were present in the proposed construction area and that the construction could be managed without impacting the small pockets on the south western edge of the wider site where koalas have been sighted by residents.

Minister Ley said she considered all environmental impacts, including the impacts of bushfires on koala habitats around the country, before making her decision.

“This is not a region where bushfires have impacted local populations or habitat, the area to be cleared is not a site that is supporting resident breeding populations and, having reviewed the Department’s recommendations, I have approved the proposal.”

 

By Marian SAMPSON

 

Kate Washington with a sculpture of koalas at the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary, she hopes to see healthy populations in the wild, however forecasts that they will be gone by 2050 makes protecting koala habitat vital now and into the future. Photo: Marian Sampson.

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