Govt backs down on controversial koala policy
Farmers and private forestry landholders are expected to be excluded from the regulations within the controversial koala policy under a peace deal between the Liberals and Nationals.
Two weeks since Nationals leader John Barilaro took mental health leave after fighting against the koala SEPP, The Daily Telegraph understands the Liberals have agreed to amend the policy.
It is understood the changes involve "ensuring that the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) does not apply to Part 5A and Part 5B of the LLS Act".
A source close to the policy said the amendment means farmers and private forestry land holders will be excluded from the SEPP.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she ordered the controversial Koala SEPP to return to Cabinet to "ensure that all issues would be resolved".
"The NSW Coalition has rested on a very balanced and fair approach which ensures the protection of endangered koalas, but also makes sure that farming communities and private property owners are not at risk," she said.
Key takeaways from the draft plan include the removal of controversial mapping - described as causing "angst" to farmers - as well as an increase in the number of tree species determined to be a koala habitat.
Acting Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the government was close to "landing a balanced outcome".
"We've got strong environmental protections," Minister Toole said. "But also acknowledging that farmers' rights and property rights are going to be protected."
The acting Deputy Premier said early draft plans threatened to see farmers being weighed down by green tape.
Planning Minister confirmed koala habitat mapping - which also highlighted possible habitats in metropolitan areas like Liverpool, Campbelltown, Hornsby, and Newcastle - would be withdrawn from the draft SEPP.
"This is not in any way about diluting protections for the Koala," he said
But Greens MP and NSW Upper House inquiry into koalas chair, Cate Faehrmann, said if the premier continued to "backflip" on protections, "the koalas will become extinct in NSW before 2050.
Originally published as Govt backs down on controversial koala policy