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Koala Habitat to be Razed for New Kurrajong Development

Feb 26, 2024

Environmentalist have raised serious concerns about massive clearing of koala habitat in Kurrajong, citing habitat destruction as the biggest threat to the endangered marsupials.

The latest plans, by a developer new to the Hawkesbury, propose to raze more than 95 percent of trees in a koala habitat area as part of plans to build a 29 home residential development on bush acreage.

The developer Monterea Land Holdings Pty Ltd has submitted plans with Hawkesbury City Council to modify an approved development on the 3.2 hectare site.

“The leading reason for the plummeting of Koala numbers in Australia is habitat destruction and the fragmentation of existing Koala habitat,” WIRES Koala expert Morgan Philpot told the Hawkesbury Post.

“Of course there are numerous other contributing factors to the decline in Koala numbers in this country but habitat destruction unequivocally remains the number one cause of their unrelenting march into extinction,” he said 

In 2017 developer PRJM Pty Ltd was awarded approval by the Land and Environment Court for a 37 lot subdivision at the bush block at 67 Kurrajong Rd, Kurrajong despite significant community and council objections. Part of the conditions imposed by the court included the acquisition of a water license from IPART and approval from Council to gain relevant approvals for sewerage works before any construction begins.

New documents lodged with Hawkesbury Council by the new owners/developers Monterea Land Holdings Pty Ltd show they are seeking to modify the approved plans and build 29 new homes on the site and an alternative method of effluent disposal, for which detailed plans are not included in the application. 

The proposed development of the site has long been a source of controversy due to amongst other things, numerous sightings of koalas on the block. The site is also home to Butcher birds, Bower birds, Shrikes, Magpies, Kookaburras, Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas, Black Cockatoos.There are also possums, bandicoots and microbats. 

Under the new plans just 14 trees would be retained. “In summary, of the one hundred and forty-seven (147) trees identified, one hundred and thirty-

three (133) will require removal to facilitate the subdivision and associated infrastructure,” Concept Arbor Consulting said in their report for the developer.

Trees on the site are predominantly Cabbage Gum and Parramatta Wattle (which we call Black Wattle) plus Forest Red Gum, Grey, Gum, Southern Mahogany and Silky Oak, according to residents.

Philpot said it is incomprehensible that this development has been granted approval to get to this stage.

“The anticipated loss of 133 of the 147 trees on site is staggering. A significant number of these trees are red gums, ( E. Tereticornis and E. Amplifolia). These are primary Koala food trees! One glance at Google Earth shows this area represents a large portion of our Koala corridor and is vital to connecting the already fragmented Koala habitat.This is critical core Koala habitat within Kurrajong Village,” Philpot said.

“Over the last 5 years we’ve experienced a steady rise in Koala sightings in and around this immediate area. We are seeing more Koalas each year in the Village itself. The potential loss of this area will have a huge negative impact on our local Koalas,” he said.

Residents are also concerned about the storm water which is slated to run into the drain under Kurrajong Road near the Baptist church. The drain is part of a tributary system which runs in Little Wheeny Creek. The tributary system is around 50 metres at most from the stormwater outlet. Platypus have been sighted for years in Little Wheeny Creek near the back of 76 Kurrajong Road, which is one of the two properties opposite 67.

They also say that the development will increase traffic along Kurrajong Road which is old and narrow and will have a negative impact on pedestrians, residents and other road users. 

The first development plans for the site were submitted in December 2015, for 52 lots housing 50 homes. Alongside this, developers presented an alternative, less densely populated proposal consisting of eight lots. However, both submissions were rejected by council, leading to the court action by PRJM.

The latest development follows previous koala habitat clearing by local developer Matthew Bennett who is currently in the process of building two new developments in Kurrajong.

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