North Coast Greens MP and koala protection spokesperson Dawn Walker has raised the plight of Bangalow’s koala population in NSW Parliament and thrown her support behind the community campaign against the proposed mega food precinct at Lot 201 Lismore Road, Bangalow.
Bangalow’s dwindling koala population was heavily impacted by the construction of the M1.
The local community have been working hard to protect local koala habitat and food trees, many of which are along the busy Bangalow Road or on private land.
But Ms Walker said, ‘like most koala populations across NSW, Bangalow’s koalas are under pressure from car strikes and urban development, including the mega “food hub proposal” at lot 201 Lismore Road, Bangalow that is currently before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
‘I share the concerns of Ballina MP, Tamara Smith, Byron Mayor Simon Richardson and the community about the impacts of the proposed mega ‘food hub’ at Bangalow, which will result in a significant loss of RU1 agricultural land, a large increase in local traffic and negative impacts on the local koala population; if it proceeds at the proposed scale.
‘That’s why I’ve called in parliament for the JRPP to reject the Bangalow mega food-hub DA in its current form.’
The development would see three massive sheds covering 20 acres of productive farm land just two kilometres out of Bangalow on the busy and treacherous Lismore Road.
An amended project plan went on exhibition on July 6 and on August 17 the JRPP, following widespread local opposition, held a public meeting to hear community concerns.
The proposal is still with council’s planners and that the JRPP will decide the matter in early 2018.
Ms Walker said the Greens believe that while food processing and manufacturing industries ‘are vital for the Byron shire economy… they need to be at an appropriate scale and at an acceptable location, and not dwarf our small villages like Bangalow.’
‘Given koalas on the North Coast have almost halved over the last 20 years, it’s vital that we start recognising and protecting each koala population from urban expansion, especially as they become more fragmented and have less opportunity to recover as their numbers decline,’ she said.
Longtime campaigner against the development, Linda Sparrow, has created an online petition that currently has more than 1,000 supporters.