AT ORMISTON: Koala Action Group secretary Jennifer Niall with Cr Wendy Boglary in front of the Cowley Street land. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough
AN Ormiston resident fears that koala trees at Ormiston may be felled because they are not protected by the city plan that was implemented last year.
Stephanie Gaunt said a row of vacant plots on Cowley Street could be cleared by a developer because koala habitat protection overlays had been removed.
She wants the overlays, in place before the plan was implemented in October, to be reinstated for the Cowley Street blocks.
“The new Redland City Plan has had all protection overlays removed and is now deemed a developer’s dream as they (developers) do not need to gain further council approval for any land that has allocated lots of less than 1000 square metres,” Ms Gaunt said.
A council spokesperson said council had decided not to include properties less than 1000 square metres in the environmental significance overlay when drafting the city plan.
This meant that trees on urban blocks of that size or less can generally be removed without council approval.
The spokesperson said the Cowley Street residential-zoned lots averaged 400 square metres, with some sub-divided in the 1880s.
“Ensuring the ongoing retention of native trees on residential lots of this size is very difficult,” the spokesperson said.
“Despite this, council continues to wait for the state to release its revised koala mapping and planning response to the findings of the state-appointed Koala Expert Panel.
“It is unknown what, if any, implications this may have for ongoing koala protection across the city.”
Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing said large trees on the Cowley Street blocks were known to be frequented by koalas.
“It is so wrong that not one of the trees is protected in the new city plan,” Ms Pointing said.
“At a time when koala populations are known to be crashing, more needs to be done to retain significant urban trees. This is another example of poor planning.”
The council spokesperson said the area was not formally designated as conservation or koala habitat.
However, council had identified Ormiston as important urban koala habitat and was working to retain a viable koala population and conserve and manage a suitable habitat.
Cr Wendy Boglary – who voted against the plan – said that she had been trying for years to ensure the vegetation on the Cowley Street blocks was protected.
“The environmental significance of the land has always been recognised,” Cr Boglary said. “Before the new city plan was implemented the land had koala habitat overlays.”
Ms Gaunt said areas like 3-53 Cowley Street could be subject to imminent development and the removal of important koala habitat.
“The overlays were there for a reason,” she said. “They were there because of the significance of the trees in this land area, for the koalas, huge range of bird population and our wildlife.
“By removing the overlays council has lost all power to protect important vegetation.”
The council spokesperson said the Redland City Plan was the major planning instrument for the city for 10 years.
“…The city plan was the subject of exhaustive research, mapping, review and community engagement, including state government review and approval to adopt,” the spokesperson said.
Also read: Ormiston to get koala safe neighbourhood