Environmentalists slam move to allow Figtree Hill housing development in koala habitat


The NSW Land and Environment Court has rejected a legal offer to quash approval for the development of a 1,700-unit subdivision that environmental groups say will wipe out Sydney’s growing koala population.

The Save Sydney Koalas’ unsuccessful challenge against developer Lendlease and the Campbelltown Council was aimed at stopping the clearing of a land corridor considered a major access point for koalas moving between the Georges and Nepean rivers.

Lendlease said it is committed to “protecting and increasing the Campelltown koala population” through its koala conservation plan.

But the local group involved in koala watch and rescue attempted to argue the development demand to remove trees and dewatering dams in court, and the koala plan was all invalid.

Recent data from the Australian Koala Foundation revealed that the NSW koala population has fallen by 41% in the past three years to less than 10,000 animals.

According to the report, the koalas that inhabit the Macarthur region southwest of Sydney were contradicting the trend of reaching up to 500 koalas.

A 2018 koala death map shows that 12 of 23 recorded road deaths occurred on a 3.8 km stretch of Appin Rd.(

Provided: Dean Karas, University of Wollongong


“War on the koalas”

Last year, NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean pledged to double the state’s koala population.

But Saul Deane of the Total Environment Center said construction of housing in Figtree Hill would fracture koala habitat and have a devastating impact on efforts to reverse the decline in the NSW koala population.

“It is now the only recovering koala colony that we see in New South Wales,” Mr Deane said.

“If you were to organize a deliberate war on the koalas, this would be the cleanup process to make sure they disappear.

“It’s the only koala colony in recovery in NSW and now they’ve declared everything as housing and they’re going to go ahead with organic certification, and they’ve put a management plan aside. koalas.

“It’s that simple, frankly, and it’s also disastrous with what we’re looking at.”

Watercolor of trees with a car on a bridge and an underpass for wildlife below
A concept for one of the two wildlife tunnels proposed by Lendlease for its Figtree Hill development.(

Provided: Lendlease


Lendlease praised the court ruling and said he shares the passion for koala protection shown by the community group that took him to court, and maintains that development can continue while improving koala protection. .

“We share the passion of local community groups, including Save Sydney’s Koalas, to protect and develop the local koala population of Campbelltown,” said a spokesperson for Lendlease.

“Figtree Hill will provide 1,700 new homes for the Campbelltown community and stimulate the local economy while strengthening protection for local koalas.

The company’s plan depends on building wildlife corridors as part of the modernization of Appin Road, which runs directly through koala migration corridors, regularly resulting in fatal collisions.

Lendlease said he was waiting for the NSW government to approve his plan, an issue raised directly in the company’s response to the court ruling.

“As part of the Figtree Hill development, we are committed to upgrading Appin Road, a dangerous black spot for motorists and wildlife,” a spokesperson said.

“Now that the court has rendered its decision, we are asking the state government to approve the underground passages for koalas.”

The mapping of koalas deaths shows that the section of the road where development is proposed is a hot spot for killing koalas, hence the need for dedicated car-free passages under the road.

Lendlease said its real estate development represented an investment of $ 1.6 billion, creating 2,000 full-time equivalent jobs per year for the next 10 to 15 years and would ease housing stress in Sydney’s housing market.

Environment Minister Matt Keane and Transport for NSW have been contacted for comment.


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