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Re: Revised Concept DA 16-2018-772-1 for Lot 41 DP 1037411 and Lot 4821 DP 852073: Kings Hill Urban Release Area

Posted at April 10, 2020 | By : | Categories : Latest News,Position papers | 0 Comment

__________EcoNetwork – Port Stephens Inc.__________

All correspondence to: Kathy Brown Secretary PO Box 97 Nelson Bay _____________

secretary@econetworkps.org Mob. 0422 261 057________________

The General Manager
Port Stephens Council
PO Box 42
Raymond Terrace NSW 2324
Email: council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au

10 April 2020

Re: Revised Concept DA 16-2018-772-1 for Lot 41 DP 1037411 and Lot 4821 DP 852073: Kings Hill Urban Release Area

EcoNetwork-Port Stephens is a grassroots community-based environmental and sustainability network comprising 26 community and environment groups and eco-businesses with a focus on sustainable planning. We are non-party political and do not donate to political parties.

As you are aware, we made a submission on this DA when it was first advertised in 2019.  We understand that is now being re-advertised with revisions, most of the documentation on the DA Tracker website having been replaced with revised versions.

Our major concern was, and remains, the very serious impacts of the Kings Hill development on threatened species habitat (especially of koalas) and other environmental and ecological impacts.

The applicant has revised the proposed development footprint, increasing the size of the conservation area to 244 ha (from 39.8% to 47% of the site area) and proposing a range of habitat enhancement and protection measures. These changes are based on the recommendations of the revised Species Impact Statement (SIS), which has contributed an ‘improved and contemporary understanding of biodiversity values and potential impacts from gazetted land use zones’ (SEE p.50).

While we welcome these changes, they would only ‘avoid, mitigate and minimise’ the adverse impacts to a very limited extent.

We also note that the recent (Summer 2019-20) severe bushfires in many parts of Australia have significantly changed the context for consideration of environmental impacts of major developments such as the Kings Hill Urban Release Area (URA).

The revised SIS expressly mentions the recent bushfires in relation to many of the threatened species found in the Kings Hill area, and notes that for many of these species there has been a significant adverse effect on their habitat in eastern Australia (  Surprisingly, no such comment is made in relation to koalas (phascolarctos cinereus), despite well reported evidence that the 2019-20 fires have had a devastating effect on koala habitat in NSW. We refer in particular to a recent report by BioLink.[1]

We submit that the changed context for threatened koala populations justifies more than just marginal changes to the Kings Hill proposal.  The Kings Hill koala ‘hub’ identified by BioLink in their separate 2019 report for Council[2] now has a new-found significance and importance and its preservation must be given greater weight.  We submit that much more radical changes to the Kings Hill URA development proposal are now required.

We defer to the submission by Port Stephens Koalas for more detailed arguments in support of this submission.

We also request that all of the other points made in our July 2019 submission on the original concept plan be taken into account in assessment of the revised proposal, and in any conditions of approval.

As a minimum, the four recommendations made by Biolink in their 2018 report to the developer (Biolink 2018, p.4) should be made conditions of approval.  These were:

MAINTAINING no less than a 30% occupancy status of habitat being utilised by koalas throughout the development process, while at the same time ensuring that adequate linkages and habitat areas are maintained to assist ongoing processes of recruitment and dispersal;

A CONCEPT OF NO NET REDUCTION in the area of native vegetation cover as a consequence of development within that area of the KHURA owned by KHD; amongst other things this will require a hub-focussed offset strategy to compensate for the loss of areas of preferred koala habitat to development;

MAINTAIN OR IMPROVE the overall carrying capacity of retained habitat / linkage areas by way of enrichment planting with PKFTs, and

IN THE ABSENCE of a koala friendly development landscape, the segregation of development precincts from koala habitat areas and linkages by way of effective use of wildlife management infrastructure such as exclusion fencing, koala-grids and underpasses.

Kathy Brown

[1] Lane, A., Wallis, K., and Phillips, S. (2020) A review of the conservation status of New South Wales populations of the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) leading up to and including part of the 2019/20 fire event. A report prepared by Biolink for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

[2] Biolink (2019). Kings Hill, Tomago and Medowie Koala Hub Assessment, final report to Port Stephens Council. Biolink Ecological Consultants, Uki, NSW

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