Koala law repeal not a catastrophe, but we must work quickly
A letter to the editor from councillor Dan Stewart:
(The motion to repeal two Temporary Local Planning Instruments) was by far the most controversial item.
It was good to be met by protesters outside Town Hall. We need people to keep us on our toes.
TLPIs had the aim of preserving significant habitat (including for koalas) in the Southside development area in particular, and residential and rural residential land across the region.
I (and other councillors) received numerous phone calls, emails etc about the issue.
On the one hand we want our significant animals and plants (not just koalas) to thrive in their/our environment.
On the other hand we need to be able to feed and house people.
People have invested in land with the expectation of being able to develop it.
But then, that needs to happen within our environment.
Our own good health depends on a healthy environment.
Council took about 90 minutes to discuss the issues and hear further information from the planning department.
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There was significant concern that definitions of vegetation were too broad (and included woody weeds such as exotic pines) and that the mapping greatly exaggerated the areas of significant vegetation and koala habitat.
Essentially the concern was the TLPIs went far further than was intended and there were too many unintended consequences.
The outcome was that the TLPIs be scrapped ([councillor] Jess Milne and I voted against this scrapping).
Some “catastrophise” that this will result in widespread vegetation and habitat lose.
I doubt that though some will no doubt do some land clearing, such as clearing exotic or storm damaged vegetation.
However, there is a need to work quickly to develop appropriate environmental protections within our planning scheme.
Part of this will be to have staff and representatives of developers and conservation groups meeting to develop workable framework for sustainable development.