Development rezoning threatens to ‘decimate’ koala population in Wilton

Wollondilly councillors are concerned the development in a newly rezoned precinct at Wilton New Town will completely decimate the koala population in Wilton.

The Department of Planning and Environment last week approved the rezoning of land at Wilton South East Precinct, which is owned by Walker Corporation.

The development is proposed to cut through Allens Creek Corridor at Wilton, which is a significant corridor for Wollondilly’s koala population.

The council has labelled the rezoning “premature”.

It is calling on the department to withdraw or defer the approval of the stage of the planning proposal that relates to the creek until the Office of Environment and Heritage release its research findings.

The office, in partnership with the council, is tracking koala movements and food sources in the shire.

Cr Matt Gould said the creek was a vital corridor for the koalas and the thriving population needed to be protected.

“The koala population has been thoroughly screwed over by Walker Corporation,” he said.

“The creek is one of the most critical corridors and it will be decimated.

“We are going to see the destruction of the koala population.

“This decision is based on nothing more than greed and there is no reason the corridor can’t be protected.”

Cr Matthew Deeth said the koalas would now be forced into a tiny sliver of corridor next to the development.

He is concerned the koalas will wander into the development and get killed on the roads.

“What the hell is going on with this poorly thought out decision?” Cr Deeth said.

“I have serious questions as to how this has been allowed to happen.

“If we lose this link then it can easily lead to the decline of the koala population in Wilton.

“We have to do everything we can to protect the koalas.”

A department spokeswoman said koala fencing and safe crossing points on Picton Road were part of the overall plan for the precinct.

“A large, well-connected reserve network along the Nepean River and Allens Creek corridor has been protected and will allow koala movements,” she said.

“[This] will help to ensure the Wollondilly and Macarthur koala colonies continue to thrive.

“[Also] more than 160 hectares of highly significant biodiversity land will be conserved in this precinct, including Cumberland Plain Shale Woodland and Shale Sandstone Transition Forest.”

The council publicly condemned the rezoning decision at the last council meeting and will advocate for the protection of the corridor by writing to state and federal ministers and members of parliament.

The council will also ask the ministers to give urgent attention to preserving buffers along Picton Road, a known koala hotspot, to ensure future growth of the transport corridor does not impact critical koala corridors.

The council set up a hotline for residents to report sightings of koalas in 2015. Call 4677 1100.

In January, the council, Office of Environment and volunteer team had tracked 15 koalas in the region, conducted 300 spotlight surveys and completed koala habitat surveys on 60 private properties in the previous year.


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