'No hospital at Kings'
KOALA activists who have long fought against development at Kings Forest say they are "absolutely horrified” the development may be considered as a location for the new Tweed Valley Hospital.
Last week, Leda Holdings announced it could deliver the $534million hospital six months early at no extra cost to taxpayers if chosen as the new hospital site following an extended expression of interest process.
But Team Koala president Jenny Hayes said the group had been fighting since 2009 to protect the endangered koalas at Kings Forest and it was "absolutely ludicrous” to even discuss having the hospital there.
She said there were less than 100 koalas on the whole Tweed Coast and it was estimated one-third of those were located at Kings Forest.
Last June, developer Leda Holdings put forward a revised Koala Plan of Management for the Kings Forest estate that Team Koala claimed had a reduction in koala habitat offsets, a fact disputed by the developer.
The plan resulted in a protest campaign by Team Koala, including a rally through the streets of Kingscliff and a petition with more than 2000 submissions.
"We had over 2000 submissions just last year and are horrified about even considering having something on Kings Forest,” Ms Hayes said.
Ms Hayes said the campaign to have the new hospital at Kings Forest was "a real kick in the guts”.
She said the fact the Kings Forest site had already been ruled out of the original EOI process meant it should not even be a possible location.
"It has already been refused by Health Infrastructure. To put a hospital smack bang in the middle of koala habitat is absolutely a no-go,” she said.
But Leda Holdings development manager Reg van Rij said it was a condition of approval to submit a revised koala management plan.
"It has been couched as the developer backtracking and breaking promises, and I want to say very strenuously that we don't make consent conditions, what we do is make applications in a very transparent way and undergo the most rigorous assessment process,” he said.