10 November 2017
Meerschaum Vale koala [Photo: Heather Dunn]
Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith today called on the NSW government to protect Ballina’s koala population and other wildlife as the RMS starts tree clearing work as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade at Meerschaum Vale.
“I have heard from residents in the area about the dead and injured koalas they have found almost daily. The residents have also been told that contractors are not allowed to touch any injured animals they see. There seems to be no process in place for the RMS or its contractors to count the koalas or other wildlife that are dead or injured due to the increased truck traffic or tree clearance.”
“I have visited Meerschaum Vale and met with residents multiple times in the past two years and I have seen the impact of the preparation for the highway upgrade on the wildlife and on the lives of the residents. I have made many representations on the community’s behalf about the effects of this highway upgrade to the RMS and to the Minister for Roads.
“I cannot state how strongly this upgrade is affecting the lives of residents with problems with dust, vibration, noise and traffic.”
“I call on the NSW government to get a proper process of wildlife monitoring in place and employ animal rescue staff to save injured koalas and other endangered species,” said Ms Smith.
Greens MP and Koala Protection spokesperson, Dawn Walker has joined the call for better koala management in RMS construction areas.
“I share the concerns of the residents and Ballina MP, Tamara Smith, about the impacts of the road construction through such a formerly low traffic area. The large increase in truck traffic and dust from preparations for the Pacific Highway upgrade in the area has had negative effects on the local Ballina koala population,” said Ms Walker.
"I joined residents and local environmentalists on the site of the highway upgrade last week and the massive scenes of environmental devastation I saw can only be described as 'ecocide'," said Ms Walker.
Dawn Walker recently met with Kevin Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads, activist Sue Arnold and koala expert ecologist David Milledge to discuss koalas.
“This is a Government that has an appalling record when it comes to protecting our koalas. Koalas on the North Coast have almost halved over the last 20 years, it’s vital that we started recognising and protecting each koala population especially as they become more fragmented by roads and have less opportunity to recover as their numbers decline,” said Ms Walker.
Tree clearing at Meerschaum Vale, November 2017