Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

On the hunt to save Iluka's koala population

THE Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, has been told the koala population at Iluka will be wiped out if the proposed 162-lot residential development goes ahead.

Environmental group Friends of the Koala has written to Mr Hunt, calling for him to step in if sufficient documentation is not produced by the developer.

"If the proposal is allowed to proceed as it is presented, it will surely spell the end for the koala population in Iluka which, over recent years, appears to be actively recovering from functional extinction claimed in the early 2000s," wrote Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass.

"The development application's supporting documentation ignores entirely a 2012 study which provided ample evidence of koala activity in the Iluka area, encouraging optimism for recovery .

"It treats the site's significance to koalas quite contemptuously by erroneously assessing it as not meeting the criteria of core koala habitat defined by [NSW] State Environmental Planning Policy - Koala Habitat Protection (SEPP 44) and therefore preparation of an Individual Koala Plan of Management is not required."

The group stated it had Dr Stephen Phillips, principal author of the 2012 study, assess the development proposal in line with Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. His assessment was that there area contained "habitat critical to the survival of the koala", and that the development would reduce the carrying capacity of the site and result in "significant loss of habitat".

"Minister, as you are well aware, many North Coast koala populations ... are being pushed to the brink," Ms Vass wrote. "We urge you to take on board Dr Phillip's advice and if, as we suspect, the proponent does not refer the action for assessment under the EPBC Act, that you arrange to have it called in."

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