Hera the blind koala at Friends of the Koala. Council yesterday passed a plan to save members of her species in the wild.
Hera the blind koala at Friends of the Koala. Council yesterday passed a plan to save members of her species in the wild. Cathy Adams

Koala habitat plan gets approved

AFTER months of controversy and consultation, koalas in south-east Lismore have been afforded extra planning protection.

Lismore City Councillors narrowly approved the Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for south-east Lismore at Tuesday's council meeting.

The plan aims to minimise threats to Lismore's koalas and their habitat, while also removing the need for developers to create individual koala management plans.

A packed council gallery heard heated debate about the plan, which attracted 905 public submissions when it was placed on exhibition from November 14, 2011 to February 3, 2012.

Cr Graham Meineke argued mapping within the plan was "wrong" and its complexity had caused great concern in the community.

He put forward a motion calling for further consultation as "substantial" changes had been made to the plan.

But council staff denied another consultation period was necessary and Cr Simon Clough argued the plan had already been delayed too long.

"This motion is a subterfuge to delay the koala plan of management," Cr Clough said.

"This plan first came into this chamber 17 years ago and may I say, Madam Mayor, how much can a koala bear?"

Cr Meineke's motion calling for more consultation was rejected nine votes to two. Another vote was then held and the koala plan was passed six votes to five.

Friends of the Koala volunteer and former councillor Ros Irwin said she was "absolutely delighted" with the result.

"There is no doubt in my mind the plan is good for landowners as well as for the broader community and koalas," Ms Irwin said.

The plan will now be sent to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure for approval.



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