Developer slips under koala law

KOALA feed trees that would be protected under new rules adopted by Tweed Shire councillors just two weeks ago may still be axed because plans for a controversial Chinderah subdivision were lodged before the rules were brought it.

A Tweed Shire Council spokeswoman claims that although the area of Chinderah, where residents fear a huge new highway service centre and truck stop will be built, is covered by the new Tree Protection Order that won't save trees in the way of a proposed new road.

However the claims are being disputed by residents who say the new rules should apply because final approval of a roadway to the subdivision has been deferred by the council.

The council spokeswoman said the Forest Red Gum would need to be removed for the road however the tree protection order does not actually “prohibit the removal of a koala food tree, but does require consent.

“In this instance,” she said, “removal of the trees was incorporated into the development application prior to the introduction of the 2011 TPO (Tree Protection Order)”.

She said suitable conditions for offsetting the loss of trees, in particular the forest red gum, were included in the application with each tree removed to be replaced by ten others.

The council would also insist on “a suitable protection mechanism on the land” to ensure those trees are protected.

“The main value of a TPO is that it forces consideration of tree preservation issues outside of the normal development approval process,” the spokeswoman said.

Yesterday spokeswoman for Team Koala Jenny Hayes said her group was very concerned about the loss of koala feed trees for the subdivision and was contacting the council for detailed information.

Last month it was revealed that NSW Roads and Traffic Authority regional manager David Bell had written to the council advising that the area was identified as a “strategic site for a highway service centre” in a study conducted for the RTA in 2005.

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