Kings Forest Development - Koalas' Nightmare
On the northern coast of N.S.W. adjoining the Gold Coast and S.E.Queensland lies Tweed Shire, christened as the Green Caldera by once Environment Minister Peter Garrett. This area is famous for one of the highest biodiversity levels in Australia and infamous for the greatest level of biodiversity loss in N.S.W. thanks to the fact that the vast majority of Tweed councillors are pro-development. But in the case of Kings Forest, a massive housing development for 15,000 people worth $2 billion, NSW State Planning took control under the massively unpopular Part 3a legislation, depriving the council of all controls.
If this development is approved, it will be goodbye koalas on Tweed coast within 5-10 years. HAVE YOUR SAY!!
Kings Forest development plan includes 4500 housing lots, a golf course, two primary schools, and shopping facilities, and will occupy a large area between Kingscliff and Cabarita with a single entrance along Tweed Coast Road.
The social impacts of this development are huge. Just what will life look like with another 15,000 or so people driving around, looking for parking, jobs, needing infrastructure like hospitals, schools, libraries? Who will pay for the infrastructure - ratepayers?
While it is commonly believed by local businessmen that this will be good for business, the truth is that an increase in population may not automatically create employment, because most of the jobs created will be short term construction jobs and at the same time there will be an increase in job seekers.
(photo: Cudgen Nature Reserve)
There are many environmental impacts of this development, especially the risk to the remaining population of 144 Tweed Coast koalas, placing the population at high risk of localised extinction. Also at risk are 21 Threatened Species of fauna including the Wallum Froglet, Wallum Sedge frog, Grass Owl, Bush Stone Curlew and Long-Nosed Potoroo, 6 species of flora and 3 endangered ecological communities.
Many changes will be needed to protect adjacent Cudgen Nature Reserve and State Significant Cudgen Lake, which could well be at risk. The developer should dedicate land to the Nature Reserve ahead of the development so that the flora and fauna can be protected from the bulk earthworks. Bulk earthworks will move 1 million cubic meters to flatten out the site for housing. The development application has not indicated when the land will become reserve, it may happen after it has already been seriously disturbed. Fencing of the nature reserve should also happen ahead of the development to protect fauna that try to move through the development. The fencing should be of a different specification to what is proposed by the developer - it needs to be floppy top cyclone fencing, or the koalas will climb over it.
Friends of the Cudgen Nature Reserve is concerned about the water course to Cudgen Lake, and also the drainage pattern which appears to using Blacks Creek as the major channel to drain KF which then goes through the nature reserve. Unless certain extra measures aren’t taken, this development will threaten the viability of the nature reserve, a jewel in the Tweed Coast.
In addition to Section 94 contributions, there should be an environmental maintenance fund established by the developer because a lot of the environmental measures they propose have no monitoring, feedback or evaluation. It's not realistic to assume people are going to move in with their dogs and just obey a few signs.
Kings Forest has confusion and conflicting development application information. It has almost no Ecologically Sustainable Development 'footprints' concerning the future wellbeing of the people who currently live and work on the Tweed Coast. The demonstrated community consultation and awareness about this development is completely lacking. The owner and developer of Kings Forest is not even a Tweed Shire resident, who has cleared and mismanaged valuable ecological wetland areas, native wildlife habitats and altered catchment profiles of Tweed coastal land. There has been no invitation to qualified individuals with excellent local knowledge who could help the developer and workers on the property manage it in a sensible ecologically sustainable framework.
There should at least be a moratorium placed on this development by the NSW and Federal governments until issues of past rezoning processes, past and current land and water management issues and illegal clearing of valuable ecological habitat are resolved. It is up to the NSW State and Federal governments to actively pursue these questionable issues.
Many in the community are voicing an urgent need for remedy to the current mismanagement of this development and to the development's processes which needs to be addressed before further works continue on the site. The habitat and ecological damage that has already occurred could take decades to repair, some may never be repaired, if the development goes ahead as per current planning documents. Nor does there appear to be any documented environmental benchmarks attached to the past and current development process by which environmental accountability can be assessed.
The cost of this urgent remedy should be borne by the developer, not Tweed shire community. The valuable community environmental volunteers who have been serving the Tweed coast for many years appear to have been very poorly treated by the regime that is Kings Forest Part 3a development.
On 11th December, approximately 70 protesters assembled peacefully to protest against Kings Forest. The developer had their own rent-a-crowd comprised of employees (most of whom had Queensland number plates) and their kids, all holding virtually identical (mostly professionally printed) placards saying 'WE WANT JOBS, WE WANT HOSPITALS, WE WANT A FUTURE'. Some protesters overheard Leda's manager Reg van Rij say to one of them "You are not supposed to know me." The rent-a-crowd protesting our protest began by rudely placing their signs over ours. Apart from this flagrantly defiant act, and a few wheelies near our information tent, there was no trouble. Some conversation between their head protester and us revealed that they honestly believed that all the threatened species should be just moved out and put in a sanctuary somewhere. When one of our protesters commented that there had been illegal clearing at Blacks' Creek, they all looked sheepishly to the ground and said nothing. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nvbCBw06OrM
(photo: Protest at entrance to Kings Forest site)
The deadline for submissions on Kings Forest development Stage 1, bulk earthworks, Koala Plan of Management and first lot of subdivisions is January 25th. Your comment can be emailed to [email protected]
For suggestions in making a submission, however short,
and for more information on Kings Forest, go to http://bluecray.org
or view the project application at majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=2642
POEM by Mark Comport
Our home, the valley of contrasts, the beautiful Tweed
We all take a piece of her while she silently bleeds
She bleeds overdevelopment, loss of habitat, erosion, roadkill
We’re taking too much, we’re making her ill
To move more of us in, more of her has to go
Mother nature is dying … dying slow
We argue over who was here first or who could care for her best
While we are, she’s being raped and robbed – we’ll fight for what’s left.
As of 24 January, Tweed Shire councillors recommend that Dept of Planning allow dogs at Kings Forest.