IN FEBRUARY this year the Sunshine Coast Daily reported that then Coast Mayor Bob Abbot endorsed a State Government proposal to turn a koala habitat near Noosa National Park and Lake Weyba into a protected area.
The proposal would create Queensland’s first biodiversity offset area, requiring Brisbane-based developer, Mantle Group, to hand over privately owned land to public ownership.
It would occur if the development application for land adjoining the proposed protected area was approved by Sunshine Coast Council, resulting in a 140ha land swap to extend Noosa National Park.
Sunshine Coast Environment Council refused to back the plan, saying “offset areas are not good policy”.
Then Local Government Minister Paul Lucas said the move would secure a significant publicly owned environmental corridor while giving the developer the right to submit a development application on land that was a natural extension of the urban footprint.
“By working with developers and coming to these sorts of arrangements we can protect our native flora and fauna and maintain and build environmental corridors in south-east Queensland,” he said.
“This land swap, if it goes ahead, will effectively build on Noosa National Park, where the previous protections existed over land separated from it.”
Mr Lucas said the land where Mantle Group would be able to lodge a DA already had court approval for 24 holiday villas on one of the lots.
But to further develop the land, he said the developer had to make other land available to the state for koala habitat.
“They have one year to lodge an application and, if it’s successful, then the 140ha will transfer to the people of Queensland,” he said.
Cr Abbot said it made sense to make the koala corridor continuous throughout the park given its large size.
“But let me be clear about this. Any development application will still be subject to comprehensive assessment prior to any council approval,” he said.
Sunshine Coast Environment Council president Wiebe ter Bals told the Daily while it would be great to see further protection of koala habitat, offset areas did not work.
“There’s something fundamentally wrong with the way offsets are designed, and we do not believe offsets provide a good outcome for conservation,” he said.