Koala supporters call for bypass route change
By UTE SCHULENBERG
TREVOR Pike is certainly tenacious.
With work on the long-awaited Bonville bypass set to start soon, he says it is not too late to save 29 hectares of core koala habitat and old-growth forest which lie in its path.
"I know we are going close to the wire on this but there is flexibility in the design and the contractors, Abigroup, can move the route," Mr Pike said.
"They should abandon the planned route and use the RTA easement to the east, which includes logged plantation.
"This would save the koala habitat and not intrude on the forest."
Mr Pike said the newly formed 'Krankie Koala Coalition' would be putting pressure on Abigroup to do the right thing.
"We have planned ongoing protest action, including a Rally for the Forest on Sunday, July 2."
He said the change would not delay the timetable of the project because construction could simply start at the northern end and work back towards Pine Creek.
An Abigroup spokesperson said they were contracted to the RTA and unable to comment on Mr Pike's suggestion.
An RTA spokeperson said Abigroup was required to construct the project as described in the environmental impact statement and modifications review of the environmental factors approved by the NSW Minister for Planning, Mr Frank Sartor.
He said any proposal to alter the route would require new modifications to be prepared, displayed and approved by Mr Sartor.
The issue of koala habitat at Pine Creek was the subject of heated debate when bypass consultations began 10 years ago.
An environmental lobby group, Friends of Pine Creek, was formed to negotiate with the RTA and in March 2000 requested modifications to reduce impacts on koalas.
Spokeperson Ann Coyle said the current route was the best compromise possible.
"We recognise that the RTA put in a lot of extra research, effort and expense and they have our support," Ms Coyle said.
"We were prepared to live with this route because of other mitigation measures being put in place.
"There will be fences, underpasses and a huge overpass and we hope this will ultimately stop the roadkill."
Mr Pike said the Krankie Koala Coalition would not be giving up until their cause was completely lost.
Construction is expected to start later this year.