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NSW govt unveils western Sydney koala plan

The NSW government plans to safeguard koala habitats while building 73,000 homes in western Sydney.

The NSW government plans to safeguard koala habitats while building 73,000 homes in western Sydney. Photo: AAP

The NSW government has released a new conservation plan it says will fast-track development in western Sydney while protecting koala habitats.

Planning Minister Anthony Roberts on Wednesday unveiled the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan, covering Sydney’s Western Parkland City, a region comprising the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly local government areas.

The government said the plan would accelerate the build of more than 73,000 homes across 11,000 hectares of land by providing up front biodiversity approvals.

“Having those approvals in place from the get-go for landholders will result in more homes being built faster,” Mr Roberts said in a statement.

“This is one of the largest strategic conservation plans to be undertaken in Australia, setting the standard for streamlining development processes in growth areas without sacrificing essential conservation considerations.”

The plan took in advice from the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer on protecting koala populations, including setting up koala corridors, restoring habitat, installing exclusion fencing, and building two crossings for koala movement across Appin Road in Sydney’s southwest, the government said.

It also included a dedicated koala reserve to protect and restore up to 1830 hectares of koala habitat along the Georges River, it said.

Environment Minister James Griffin said the plan would also help ensure long-term protection of rare species only found in the Cumberland Plain, such as the Cumberland Plain Woodland and the Cumberland Plain Land Snail.

“The plan has now been submitted to the Australian government and, if approved, federal biodiversity approvals will be provided up front as well to reduce the administrative burden on local development,” Mr Griffin said.

Planning in western Sydney recently came under fire from scientists who warned disease-free koala populations were at risk from a new housing estate near Campbelltown they claimed lacked environmental safeguards.

The state government earlier this year announced a nearly $200 million spend as part of its NSW Koala Strategy to boost habitat conservation, remove threats and build knowledge on the tree-dweller, which is now endangered.

NSW Labor has been contacted for comment.

– AAP

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