New Koala SEPP will cripple agriculture, private forestry and development in NSW!!

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The Koala SEPP 2019, commenced on 1 March 2020, has priority over all other environmental instruments.

Irrespective of whether Local Councils already have a Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) or not, the impacts of the Government’s Koala SEPP 2019 and draft Koala Habitat Protection Guideline are very clear and immediate.

The Koala SEPP 2019 will override the Land Management Code, thereby removing all flexibility for farmers.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Act 2013 will effectively be set aside due to the extraordinary reach of what is now ‘core koala habitat’.

The Koala SEPP 2019 will not address where koalas are most at risk on public land, as we’ve seen from this season’s bushfires.

With the number of feed tree species being increased from 10 to 123 under the new Koala SEPP and a ‘koala record’ from the past 18 years within either 2.5 or 5 km of the property (coastal or western districts), nearly all private native forests will qualify and eventually be classified as core koala habitat.

Agriculture also faces significant challenges. If agricultural area is identified as core koala habitat, it becomes Sensitive Regulated Land and no longer covered by the Local Land Services Act. Routine agricultural activities, such as fence line clearing, building dams, roads etc. are either not permitted or require development consent.

Environmental concerns that the previous SEPP 44 made it too difficult to declare areas “core koala habitat” has been flipped. The onus is no longer about proving an area is core koala habitat, it’s about proving it’s not and incurring the huge costs of doing so.

By using the Ministerial Direction process, it will create E zones across anything showing tree cover, prevent clearing of regrowth, cessation of PNF, restricts or curtail agricultural activities and force farmers and developers down the expensive biodiversity offset pathway.

The SEPP should be changed to only protect the highest suitability habitat. As written, they protect any habitat, from poorest to highest quality, that could be used by a koala. The test to determine core habitat are far too easy to meet.

For the agricultural land uses, exclude Rural Zones RU1 and RU2 from the Koala SEPP 2019 and remove the predictive and inaccurate maps.