State scraps plans to clear ‘koala forest’ for rifle range
THE State Government has scrapped plans to clear 5.4ha of bushland to expand Belmont Shooting Complex.
After a grassroots campaign led by environment group B4C the State Government has reduced the proposed clearing 0.2ha and is working on an amended design which would upgrade the existing temporary clay target facility to make it a permanent facility.
The State Government cleared 2ha for a temporary range for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. There were also plans to clear a further 5.4ha to demolish the temporary range and create a permanent complex with a clubhouse, armoury, grandstand and carpark.
In a letter from Minister for Sport Mick de Brenni, he acknowledge B4C's concerns on the need for a broader, site-wide environmental and biodiversity management strategy.
"Belmont Shooting Complex is a unique location where the shooting community and local fauna have lived in cohabitation for over 100 years and we have a responsibility to ensure the appropriate environmental and biodiversity management strategies are in place to protect that," he said.
The comments were a huge backdown from his stance in February and again in March when he told the South-East Advertiser there was no fauna of significance identified in the report into the surrounding bushland.
The area surrounding the rifle range is referred to by B4C as "Belmont Koala Forest" with the threatened glossy black cockatoo and vulnerable grey-headed flying fox, gliders, koalas, echidnas and wallabies among the 276 birds, 27 mammals and 244 native plants identified in studies of the site.
Mr de Brenni had also come under fire for the secrecy of the proposal, securing the land under a Ministerial Infrastructure Designation with little consultation, a move criticised by then Councillor for Chandler Adrian Scrinner and State Member for Chatsworth Steve Minnikin.
In the letter to B4C Mr de Brenni said the department would collaborate with the group on an environmental and biodiversity management strategy for site.
"Officers of my Department have advised me that a review of the current governance structure at BSC will be carried out in the coming months that will include a review of how the environment is managed and protected across the site."
B4C Catchment Manager Wayne Cameron welcomed confirmation that a new environmental analysis would be done and said the amended design almost eliminated proposed clearing of koala bushland.
"We appreciate the Minister's acknowledgment of the high environmental importance of the Belmont Koala Forest where the Belmont Shooting Complex is located," he said.
"We support the Minister's view that a review of the governance and broader site-wide environmental and biodiversity management strategies is a useful next step. We hope that such a review would take a comprehensive approach to biodiversity including a better understanding of plants and animals in the surrounding forest and how connectivity can be improved."
The Brisbane Gun Club has not returned calls about the proposal.