BRANDY HILL QUARRY DECISION DELAYED AFTER HUGE COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN TO SAVE KOALAS
Federal Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, has delayed her final decision on the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion, following a massive community campaign to protect 52 hectares of core koala habitat from destruction in Port Stephens.
Last week, an updated expert opinion report revealed the project would sever an East-West koala corridor, disrupt vital breeding processes, and destroy high suitability koala habitat critical to the survival of local and state-wide koala populations.
The eleventh-hour reprieve has been welcomed by the Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group who have led the community campaign against the habitat destruction.
Shadow Minister for Environment and Port Stephens MP, Kate Washington, has called on Sussan Ley to use the extra time productively.
“The NSW Government used a 2014 environmental impact statement to assess this project. So much has changed since then, including devastating bushfires where 71 per cent of local koala populations were killed. That’s the new reality we’re dealing with in NSW, but you’re not going to find that in a 2014 environmental impact statement,” said Ms Washington.
“Sussan Ley must use this extra time to commission new environmental assessments and update the information she’s been given by the NSW Government. If we’re serious about protecting koalas from extinction, we have to stop destroying their habitat. It’s really that simple.
“In NSW, our environment laws are so weak and inadequate, even the planning commission requested they be reviewed following the bushfires, but that hasn’t happened. Now Sussan Ley has an opportunity to consider this project in the context of those bushfires and act to protect this vital breeding habitat from destruction.
“Sussan Ley has done the right thing by delaying this decision to seek further information. Once she has all the facts in front of her, I’m sure she’ll realise how devastating the project is. If it gets approved, it will lead to the further decline of koalas in NSW and confirm their anticipated extinction by 2050.
“This is a small win on the back of an incredible community campaign, which now has international support. I have so much respect for the local residents who have been fighting to protect this vital habitat. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a relief to know Sussan Ley is actually paying attention,” said Ms Washington.
Minister Ley’s decision to delay the project’s assessment comes one week after the University of Newcastle’s Dr Ryan Witt and Associate Professor John Clulow submitted their expert opinion report to her office, recommending the Minister overturn the NSW Government’s approval which was based on outdated information.