Rally over land clearing in Ipswich today

TODAY a group of concerned residents will rally in the Ipswich CBD, protesting land clearing practices they say leave wildlife, particularly koalas, with nowhere to go.

Hundreds of trees have been cleared this year at Bellbird Park and Collingwood Park to make way for new homes as part of Ipswich's rapid population expansion.

The group behind the protest says it's not anti-development, but wants the council to take a more active role in ensuring valuable trees aren't felled and nature corridors remain intact.

Jim Dodrill, President of Ipswich Ratepayers and Residents Association, which has an executive largely made up of former council candidates, says koalas in Collingwood Park, Woodlinks development have often been seen desperately trying to escape the bulldozers.

"The poor things become disorientated and don't know where to go," Mr Dodrill said.

"So they're climbing up poles trying to get away... It's quite sad to see.

"The council does include conditions in the development approvals to protect the wildlife and if they were enforced properly it would be fine, but they're not."

Ipswich City Council has a strict policy "one-for-one tree replacement policy" where developers are required to pay for new trees to be planted within the local government area, following clearing.

The council says developers are required to have spotters on site during clearing as part of conditions set out by Ipswich City Council and the Australian Government.

Those spotters compile reports which are then shared with the council.

The council yesterday declined to share those reports with the QT and told Mr Dodrill in October he would need to submit a Right To Information request to access the documents.

Mr Dodrill, who lives near the Woodlinks development, wants the council to enforce stricter guidelines and avoid "broad scale clearing".

Tree clearing at Woodlinks
Tree clearing at Woodlinks

"Traditionally councils would leave a few trees, now everything is being cleared creating completely lifeless areas," Mr Dodrill said.

"We are finding the council gives approval and then wipes their hands of it."

When asked if the council could provide evidence it was enforcing conditions set out in the development application; it instead pointed to the Federal Government as being ultimately responsible.

"The Australian Government, having principal responsibility for protection of koala species, has granted approval for the works under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act," Planning and Development chair Andrew Antoniolli said in a written statement.

"Importantly, no clearing has occurred in the actual open space corridors associated with Happy Jack Gully and Woogaroo Creek.

"The only exception has been for stormwater infrastructure close to the Happy Jack Gully as well as to provide for a bio-retention basin to improve water quality. This area is required to be revegetated by the developer."

Within the Ipswich City Council area 27.1 per cent of the total land area, or about 296 km sq, has been set aside as protected green space in conservation, recreation and buffer zones.

The rally will be at 10am, Darcy Doyle Place. 

What the group wants

  • For a trained biologist or ecologist to be on site during tree clearing
  • For the council to ensure realistic buffer zones and corridors where valuable trees are retained as part of the developments
  • To adequately offset tree clearing with planting of new trees and provide evidence this is occurring

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