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UPDATE: Minister Ley delays Brandy Hill decision


Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has delayed her decision about Brandy Hill quarry expansion until Tuesday 13 October.

It comes after the release of an expert report that showed the project would harm a koala corridor and core breeding habitat in the area.

Minister Ley announced the delay in a Facebook post yesterday where she said the extension has been made to ensure all information is considered.

“The Morrison Government is rolling out a $200 million investment in bushfire wildlife and habitat recovery and I want to ensure that any bushfire impacts are taken into account at Brandy Hill,” the post read.

I have made the decision to extend the deadline for the Brandy Hill quarry to October 13 to ensure all information is…

Posted by Sussan Ley MP on Sunday, 6 September 2020

Earlier: Group’s desperate plea to save koalas

3 September

A new report has made an urgent plea to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to block a project that could destroy core koala habitat in the Port Stephens region. 

The University of Newcastle’s Dr Ryan Witt and Associate Professor John Clulow concluded in their report that the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion would harm a koala corridor and core breeding habitat.

The pair were commissioned by The Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group to provide an assessment on how the expansion project could impact on the local koala population. 

Group President Margarete Ritchie said the report was actioned by a committee member, whose property borders the current quarry site, in a bid to protect the area’s koala population.  

“She regularly has koalas on her property,” she said. 

“She is right on the boundary of the quarry and, just over the weekend, the koala research people were there and they found a female and, 96 metres away, was a male bellowing, giving a mating call. 

“That was definitive proof that there is a breeding colony there.”

Mrs Ritchie believed the project should not go ahead.

“All communities should be extremely concerned [about the project],” she said.

Hanson’s Brandy Hill Quarry in March 2019. Photo: Peter Stoop

“The figures are out there that the koala population nationally is really low and threatened.

“The destruction of wildlife habitat cannot be allowed to continue. 

“We cannot keep doing it throughout the state and, if we do, we will suffer the consequences as a country.” 

Mrs Ritchie added the community could show their support by emailing Minister Ley to express their opposition to the project.

The project, which has been approved by the NSW Independent Planning Commission, will see the quarry expand a further 52 hectares. 

The commission approved the project subject to a number of conditions.

This included requirements that would prevent, minimise and offset adverse environmental impacts and set standards and measures for its environmental performance while requiring regular monitoring and providing for the ongoing environmental management of the development.  

When handing down the decision, the commission stated the state government may need to “reevaluate the policy framework under which the impact on koalas is required to be assessed”. 

NSW Shadow Environment Minister and Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said the report and these comments showed the weakness of the state government’s koala protection laws. 

“It’s inconceivable that this project could be approved on the back of the Black Summer bushfires and in the wake of the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into koala habitat,” she said.

“Bulldozing 52 hectares of core koala habitat in an area where there are healthy, breeding koalas is contrary to every recommendation of the inquiry. 

“This is how koalas become extinct.”

Minister Ley will now assess the report and project. She is expected to make a decision on Tuesday 8 September. 

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