Mark Richardson, of Byron Bay Wildlife Tours.
Mark Richardson, of Byron Bay Wildlife Tours. Brenden Allen

Champions Quarry could kill off koalas

A RESURGENT koala population at Tucki Tucki is under threat from a massive proposed expansion of Champions Quarry.

The area is known as a pristine koala habitat, but Lismore City Council will next month vote on an application to make the quarry four times larger.

Koala groups and tour operators say the move will destroy important habitat areas and put unnecessary stress on the koalas, potentially killing them.

This comes as local residents are reporting more and more koala sightings.

One man saw 21 koalas, including three babies, in a day. Another resident saw 11 near her property, 300m from the quarry buffer zone.

Byron Bay-based tour operator Mark Richardson said Tucki’s koala habitat was the most pristine he had seen – ‘easily the best spot in a 100km radius’.

“There is nowhere else like it. You can see 25 koalas in just 400m,” he said.

“To put a quarry in the middle is just bizarre. It needs high protection.”

However, the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change told Lismore council the quarry expansion needs no koala ‘plan of management’.

It instead recommended planting more trees, but Friends of the Koala said it would lead the animals to a ‘black spot’ where they could be hit by cars.

It has taken the Tucki koalas about 30 years to rebuild their population, after National Parks and Wildlife relocated some out west in the 1970s.

Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass said this had a devastating effect on the ‘highly sociable animals’.

“Numbers are back up, although a survey hasn’t been done for a long time,” she said.

However, Ms Vass said the koalas were under threat once more.

It is understood Champions Quarry wants to expand the sand and sandstone quarry to 120,000 cubic metres, increasing annual output to 250,000 tonnes. It will be discussed at a Lismore City Council workshop next month, with the council to vote on the application on February 10.

A spokeswoman for the council said the quarry was a ‘significant and complex matter’.

“Issues such as noise, dust, koala habitat, traffic and compliance with council and State Government policies will be extensively discussed in the report to council,” she said.

The proponent, former Lismore mayor Jeff Champion, refused to comment on the matter.

But Tucki Community Against Mega Quarry chairwoman Donna Griffiths said the project would ‘ruin the landscape’ and put Tucki’s koalas in serious danger.



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