HOW TO KILL KOALAS!

A local takes a long hard look at the future of Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest.

The purpose of Bio diversity credit schemes is to offset for the loss to  Fauna, Flora and  Environment caused by a development. 

In Tea Gardens the Parry Cove and Myall River Downs developments plan to add  2381 dwellings plus commercial  facilities yet provide no genuine biodiversity offset.  Both  developments appear to rely on the dubious process  of  ‘offsetting’. This too often means setting aside unusable land which is  flood prone, wetland, swamp marsh  or similar in order to gain biodiversity credits.

The Parry Cove and Myall River Downs biodiversity offset credits add nothing to improve the environment, reducing the plant and wildlife area and corridors by  fragmenting  and isolating  fauna into  ‘sterile biodiversity offset pockets’, a process that inhibits any  opportunity for koalas and other threatened fauna to live undisturbed and acquire  genetic diversity. 

If Parrys Cove and Myall River Downs do not provide convincing evidence that their offset credits are improving  the fate of Tea Gardens or Hawks Nest koalas, threatened fauna, flora,  environment then the  biodiversity offset scheme is being “gamed“ by developers.  

(See “How to Kill Koalas” (Reference reading-Jean Shaw, Conference on Status/Plight  of Hawks Nest- Tea Gardens Koalas)

The process for developers is – Eliminate the most favoured feed trees for the threatened Koalas, Squirrel Glider, Blossom Bats so they have to move away to feed.  

Make sure the trees that are left standing are  spaced sufficiently apart so that there is no safe connectivity or reason for koalas to remain in the area.  However if a Koala enters such area, it  faces danger from the many wild dogs inhabiting Hawks Nest. 

Plant favoured koala feed trees  front roads to encourage koalas to cross  Mungo Brush Rd. to get to the Hawks Nest Golf Club, (Refer  Sanderling Av. Planning Proposal); or for Parry Cove have koalas  cross the future  conservation land fronting Toonang Drive so they can be hit by cars. 

On landholdings where clearing has not taken place (including Myall Lakes National Park) ensure  that the understory is sufficiently dense so that when fire invariably comes, the dense undergrowth is sure to wreak utter heartbreaking devastation. 

Ensure that questions to Council or authorities remain un-responded, institute buck passing,  suppression, peddle untruths. Examples suggest higher office holders with knowledge of matters may be ignored or thrown under a bus. 

Council unwillingness or inability to provide example of Hawks Nest- Tea Gardens biodiversity offset raises question is the Biodiversity  aspirations touted in many Council studies nothing but hollow platitudes? 

Council continues with dubious proclamations such as   ‘Koalas are expected to re-colonise the restored and protected habitats on Parrys Cove over time’. 

Developers and Council Planning open environmental areas with starter cuts, then with  precedence set progress with wider and deeper cuts in their good time.  

Hawks Nest North 

Some thirty years ago we stumbled onto a jewel, “we” being Councillors, developers, landowners and NIMBY’s.

East, West, North,  South, all  bounded  by wonderous ocean, river, National Park and Port Stephens.

This also resonated with Council and  developers seeing another booming Surfers Paradise.

So studies were commissioned proclaiming that thousands of houses in North Hawks Nest were needed.

Well on hearing this the NIMBYs went ape, said not on our hallowed unspoiled paradise.

Beleaguered Council packed their pants, conscripted koalas to their cause, commissioned endless koala study plots that “strangely” established koala scats and their evidence in every third tree, even within non-koala trees. 

The Statutory Public Inquiry Commission 2001/2, confronted with koala surveys that showed  North Hawks Nest overrun with Koalas, then declared the majority of land west and a strategic section east of Mungo Brush Road  to be SEPP 44-Core Koala Habitat.

Then a developer appeared, ready and willing to comply with Council and National Parks Wildlife Services mandate that the west side of Mungo Brush Road be dedicated to Myall Lakes National Park but with a provisor that some of the strategic land east of Mungo Brush Road that had  been declared  Core Koala Habitat be allowed for development. 

This sent Council into overdrive where they came up with a plan to excise this strategic east parcel from the statutory SEPP 44-Core Koala Habitat. 

All this came crashing down on 15 June 2016 when NSW Planning and Environment Delegate to the Minister pulled the plug on North Hawks Nest due to  ‘Notably high conservation environmentally significant land is no longer proposed to be dedicated to the Myall Lakes National Park’.

The reason for such abrupt reversal of the land west of Mungo Brush Road be added to the Myall Lakes National Park remains unanswered despite numerous inquiries to Council since 2015.

So now in the Council meeting of 28 July 2021  comes the latest twist, a proclamation that “We (Council) know there are no koalas east of Mungo Brush Road”.

The abhorrent fact is that due to machinations of Council, developers, landowners and NIMBYs through successful implementation of the forementioned ‘How to kill Koalas’ methods and the unabated illegal clearing as evidenced by drone footage, the wanton destruction of North Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens through to Seal Rocks Core Koala Habitat corridor continues.

Deferring protection of this contiguous corridor by disregarding the application of bio diversity offset credits and allowing degradation by RU2,  and clearing by stealth activities  will be further damaged by Council’s arbitrary decision to defer North Hawks Nest for 10+ years per the Urban Areas Release Report 2021.  

Sanderling Avenue

Some of the ‘How to kill the Koala’ methods have been successfully applied, with under scrubbing occurring prior to environmental studies and false proclamation  that the land was environmentally destroyed from sandmining, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including the presence of ancient  old  man banksias that would not have survived sand mining. 

Sanderling land was sold for a pittance, under a cloud it would seem, the outcries by Public  Submission have been  ignored, some suppressed,  with the Planning Approval rammed through for  12-meter-high tower block comprising some 292 dwellings and community facilities and extensively blocking out Hawks Nest from the ocean.

How 292 dwelling will have no impact on fauna, flora, environment and society, where the development is only called to provide 47 Ecosystem credits  is highly questionable, however according to the Planning Proposal the koalas do get access to the Golf Course. 

No doubt due to some public disquiet there is more to come to light on Sanderling Avenue.  

Parrys Cove. 

Many of the ‘How to Kill Koalas’ methods have been successfully achieved. 

Parrys Cove land comprises 218 hectares with  plans for 935 dwellings and with 114 hectares slated for biobank conservation  largely consisting of land Gazetted SEPP 14-Mangrove and Salt Marsh Swamp. The Voluntary Planning Agreement calls for the retirement of biodiversity  credits. 

From this are we naïve to conclude that koalas and Wallum Froglets will benefit from reduction of their previously available  218  hectares to a  constricted to 114 hectares when Parrys Cove is developed?

What logic is there in confining koalas and Wallum Froglets (and other threatened species)  to reduced  and constricted land that in large part is  not habitable? 

What benefit is  there for  fauna and ecosystem affected by this development, in retiring biodiversity credits on  land that is inhospitable for the affected koalas, fauna and ecosystem?  

What is to prevent further cutting off  the north-south fauna wildlife corridor were the Tourism Precinct and  land immediately to its east that is currently ’removed from concept plan’  being developed as a marina as is promoted by  the Urban  Areas Release Report and why is this likelihood not addressed in the studies? 

We are at loss to understand on what basis the Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens Koala and Environment spokesman concurs with Council’s  Senior Ecologist that the ‘Voluntary Planning Agreement(VPA)  ‘is an EXCELLENT outcome for the environment in Tea Gardens and  how plausible is Council writing that  “ Koalas are expected to re-colonise the restored and protected habitats on Parrys Cove over time”?

Council, please spare us. So with less environmental land, extremely intense developments, 2381 new dwellings for Parry Cove and Myall River  Downs, (plus 292 dwellings at Sanderling), commercial facilities, more land covered in concrete, roofs, cars,  ten years of intense earthworks,  building and construction disruption, thousands of new occupants,  5000 forecasted vehicles movements per  day on Myall Street,  and  Council writes that ‘Koalas are expected to re-colonise the restored and protected habitats on Parrys Cove over time’? (Extending this type of logic would have Sydney CBD overrun  with koalas). 

Myall River Downs 

Much of the forementioned ‘How to Kill Koalas’ methods have been successfully applied, but curiously we cannot find any reference to Koalas in the available studies.

Attempts to access  the PPK Myall River Downs LES from Council has presented  formidable obstacles, despite this LES having been on Public Exhibition.

Attempts to understand the biodiversity offset opportunities have also hit a brick wall with Council advising that such matters are currently under negotiation with a developer and will come to light at the Development Application stage. 

We question why does Myall River Downs biodiversity offset process contrast to North Hawks Nest where biodiversity offsets were mandated from word go? This also is at odds with advice provided to Council by Biodiversity and Conservation Division letter to Council of  18 September 2020 stating “Avoidance and minimisation measures are best considered as part of strategic planning stages.”

Parry Cove and Myall River Downs. 

The voluminous  Parry Cove DA-171/2020 Studies, comprising 35  appendices and  thousands of pages appear curiously silent on  highly important environmental and social impacts that will  affect Tea Gardens  and Hawks Nest citizens, koalas, and environment when both Parry Cove, Myall River Downs and Sanderling Avenue developments proceed concurrently over the next 10 years, as is planned  by Council and Urban Area Release Report.

To comprehend what will be inflicted upon citizens, koalas and environment from such concurrent  developments, to enable public to make meaningful submission by closing date of 7 December 2021 for DA-171/2020, requires them  to be fully informed of highly pertinent matters, an  example  being heavy earthmoving vehicle  movements.

As we could not find within the 1000’s of Study Appendice pages where the bulk earth fill is sourced from, we prepared an earthwork tabulation, having little choice but to base such on  some assumptions and we look forward to Council comment. 

Our tabulation of heavy truck movements indicates that large trucks require to enter or leave Parry Cove and Myall River Down sites approximately every two minutes over 10 years, working 45 weeks per year, five days per week, 7.5-hour work days. 

The number of truck movements requires to be better explained and understood against the Vehicle Movements addressed by Appendix 12, Clause 2.2.3  that assesses  a  horrendous ‘5000 Vehicles per day on Myall Street’ for Parry Cove.

Also does this 5000 Vehicle Movements per day stated for the Parry Cove development include the concurrent Myall River Down Development?

Issues that need to be clarified before the 7 December closing Public Submission closing date are:

Where is the imported bulk earthwork fill coming from?

Are the fill trucks traversing through centre of Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens?

In addition to the 927,500 tons  stated in Appendix 25- Quanto Estimate that will require *25,000 truck and dog trailer 38 ton loads of  imported fill estimated for Parrys Cove, will Council advise the tons of fill  required to be imported for Myall River Downs? 

Adding Myall River Downs could raise the imported fill requirement an additional 2,000,000 tons, this *equates to 53,000 Truck and dog 38 Ton loads.

(*Additional to the possible 78,000  earthwork truck deliveries, empty returns doubles the number of movements to 156,000, to this add building material deliveries.)   

Do  we ratepayers bear the cost of road repair resulting  for the 1000’s of heavy truck movements? 

Do rate payers bear the cost for upgrading  sewage pump systems from Tea Gardens to Hawks Nest and why is this not addressed in the Studies?   

How much is the developer paying for the fill or is it free issued by Council? 

If the fill (sand)  is dredged, does the developer pay for the dredging and is issuing  sand to developer against the offshore minerals act?

As to the borrow on land comprising stages 15 and 16. How deep will this pit be and why is there no study as to its possible effect on the Tea Gardens aquafer?

What license is required for the borrow pit if its depth compromises the aquafer?

How will such intense construction activity over 10 years by council measure provide an  ‘EXCELLENT’  benefit for the  endangered Tea Gardens koala population and not simply drive koalas out?

We appreciate the pressure to develop, and if it must occur within next 10 years,  would it  not be wise to have only ONE huge development at Tea Gardens while a second development occurs at  North Hawks Nest?

We asked and await Council response to such vital questions and reason for their exclusion from the voluminous studies and reports.

North Hawks Nest Versus
Tea Gardens Development

The positives for NHN development  versus Tea Gardens are overwhelming following environmental and social matters where North Hawks Nest provides a genuine Sea Change life style.

With the concentration of dwellings proposed for Tea Gardens it will all end up as a densely stuffed, tacked on suburb, no different from what people are escaping from when  leaving cities.  

North Hawks Nest Attributes

It provides a genuine contiguous corridor for Koalas, fauna, Flora. (Infinitely more superior than Tea Gardens) 

Construction activities are removed from township thereby  minimising disturbance to citizens and importantly does not require imported fill.

It will not destroy roads from heavy earthmoving trucks.

The sewage plant is close to simple pumping stations/solutions.

Citizens are within walking distance of beach, Golf Club, fishing, endless walking trails. 

But sighting a koala. . . .?

A Concerned Citizen.

(Name withheld.) 

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