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Councils to control local koala habitat - new regulations from now on

Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 14:20

Redlands-koalasLOCAL councils have been given ultimate control over development proposed for koala habitat and charged with increasing habitat areas by 2020 under new State Government laws announced in the Redlands on Saturday. Sustainability Minister Kate Jones and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe visited a koala revegetation site in Capalaba West to announce the two new pieces of legislation, which will dictate how developers and councils use land in order to increase koala habitat substantially by 2020.

 "The new laws will deal with irresponsible planning which has occurred in some places in the past and override existing planning schemes so that koala habitat must be taken into account," Ms Jones said.

 "Councils gave us overwhelming feedback that they were best placed to tailor localised solutions," Mr Hinchliffe said. "The main objective is that planning schemes must incorporate provisions to ensure development in koala areas delivers a net increase in koala habitat by 2020," he added. The new State Planning Regulatory Provisions (SPRP) place strict limits on developers, including banning clearing of mapped koala habitat, offset planting for unavoidable clearing of koala trees at a ratio of five trees planted for every one cleared, and requirements for koala sensitive urban design.

The new State Planning Policy (SPP) will see councils amend their planning schemes to identify and protect koala habitat while retaining and enhancing habitat connectivity with koala corridors. Councils will also have to increase the amount of bushland habitat, ensure koala movement-friendly design and layout for developments and develop a koala conservation strategy, which will be reviewed by the state to show how outcomes are being met.

The SPP will also develop a "biodiversity development offset area within the Urban Footprint", which will allow for "good or high quality koala habitat to be swapped for land with minimal or no value under the South East Queensland koala protection network", according to the State Government's documents.

Redland City Council has raised concerns about possible compensation claims from landowners, which Mr Hinchliffe said the land-swap aimed to address. The two new planning instruments come after months of consultation with councils and nearly 300 submissions from members of the public. Redland City Mayor Melva Hobson welcomed the announcement, but said she looked forward to seeing more of the detail. "Redland has been a leader in koala conservation through its own 2008 koala conservation policy and strategy, among the measures taken has been to purchase major local koala habitat to ensure corridors are maintained," she said.

The koala mapping used to set these boundaries remains a subject of contention, with both Redland council and local developers questioning the methodology behind the mapping.

This article is published online here where you can also read and add comments.

 

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