NSW Government finalises koala SEPP

Published: 7 October 2020

NSW Government finalises koala SEPP

The NSW Government has agreed on the details of the koala protection policy, which strikes a balance between safeguarding the future of our national icon while ensuring certainty for farmers.

Amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 (Koala SEPP) and the Local Land Service Act 2013 were agreed to by ministers last night.

Acting Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the agreement is a balanced outcome that will protect koalas, protect their habitat and protect farmers’ property rights.

“The new agreement will separate land management and private native forestry from the SEPP so farmers can continue their farming operations without getting weighed down in green tape,” Mr Toole said

“Farmers face enough uncertainty with seasonal conditions and volatile markets - it is critical they have certainty around rules that apply to their farming practices as they bounce back from bushfires and drought.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said that the NSW Government had been working over many months to strike a balance between protecting the koala and the rights of our farmers.

“I’m pleased to say we have hit the mark,” Mr Stokes said

“Last night’s resolution demonstrates that there are often important robust and passionate discussions as part of the decision-making process. The koala is an iconic Australian animal and saving it from extinction in the wild is the goal of this policy.”

The NSW Government has agreed the following in order to reverse the decline of the State’s koala population:

  • Retaining the 123 tree species that have been scientifically proven to be critical to koala survival, as habitat and feed source
  • Refining the definition of ‘core koala habitat’, meaning it must be either a highly suitable habitat and koalas are present, or highly suitable habitat and there is a verified record of koalas
  • Decoupling the Private Native Forestry and the Land Management Codes within the Local Land Services Act 2013 from the Koala SEPP on the basis robust protections already exist;
  • Strengthening landholder rights when a local council creates a Koala Plan of Management by extending minimum exhibition timeframes, introducing clear dispute pathways for landholders and ensuring they can access ecologists or use their own to appeal or object to what a council has put forward;
  • Removing the pink Development Application Map in favour of returning to an on-the-ground survey method; and,
  • Refining the blue Site Investigation Map and making it available to local councils.

The final Koala SEPP will be taken to the Executive Council for approval by the Governor as soon as possible and Guidelines will be published on Friday, 16 October. The NSW Government will introduce amendments into the Parliament to the Local Land Services Act 2013 this year.

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