Why we divested from Lendlease
- We have sold our debt and equity positions in the Lendlease Group (ASX: LLC) and related vehicles.
- We will also sell our investment in an unlisted property trust, the Australian Prime Property Fund – Retail, which is managed by Lendlease, at the first available opportunity.
In December 2022, we warned Lendlease that we would divest our shareholdings if it went ahead with Stage 2 of the Mt Gilead housing development in south-west Sydney without transparency around its proposed koala corridors critical to the survival of this colony.
Our engagement with Lendlease has since stalled.
We don’t take divestment lightly. It is our last resort, and it is a valuable and necessary part of our advocacy process.
Ultimately, if the housing development goes ahead as proposed, we believe we won’t know if the koalas will be adequately protected.
The survival of the Mt Gilead koala colony hinges on the existence of appropriately sized wildlife corridors to provide safe passage across the site, according to advice from the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer (OSCE).
We have serious concerns about the way the reports from the OSCE are being interpreted by the NSW Department of Planning & Environment (DPE) and Lendlease and the lack of transparency around public consultation to date.
Even the NSW Government’s own environment protection body, the Environment and Heritage Group (EHG) has found that the current Lendlease proposal is inconsistent with the recommendation from the OSCE.
The EHG told DPE that “EHG does not support the exhibited planning proposal, including the structure plan or the Biodiversity Certification Assessment Report and Strategy”, based on lack of information in the proposal.
In our opinion, Lendlease has failed to produce critical information needed to independently assess the impact of its housing development on koalas.
That’s why we’ve sold our shares.
We’ve been engaging with Lendlease on this issue since 2018. Our aim has always been to secure greater protections for koalas and to ensure the company takes biodiversity security seriously.
While we have sold our shares on ethical grounds, this is not the end of the road for this issue.
We have a housing shortage in Australia. We were hopeful this development could have been a blueprint for how sustainable urban development can be compatible with nature. However, we were not convinced that the koalas will be sufficiently protected.
We're calling on the NSW Minister for Environment & Heritage, the Hon. James Griffin MP to intervene by committing to a transparent public consultation.
Without this, we cannot be confident that this koala colony will survive the developments proposed for the area.
Beyond Mt Gilead
Mt Gilead is only one example of an increasingly desperate struggle between the need for housing and the need for protection of biodiversity. Urban development is one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss in Australia. And yet, it is still too often coming at the cost of crucial biodiversity areas. Projects such as Mt Gilead will continue to go ahead until biodiversity is properly valued and addressed at all stages of urban planning.
We also have concerns about another Lendlease development, Shoreline, in South East Queensland. This development also has the potential for negative biodiversity impacts. This together with the Mt Gilead development means we’re not convinced Lendlease is taking seriously its responsibility to protect biodiversity.
As the responsible investment community starts grappling with how to manage the existential nature loss crisis, they need to start looking very closely at developers and engaging with both industry and government all of whom need to be part of the solution.
The public hasn’t been given the full picture. Our fear is that this development will be approved without proper public consultation on the environmental impacts.
What you can do
We are hoping to secure a public consultation on the environmental impacts of the Mt Gilead, Stage 2 development which includes meaningful information about the koala corridors.
You can take action by writing to the NSW Minister for the Environment, the Hon James Griffin making it clear that you would like an opportunity to comment on the impact of the Lendlease Mt Gilead development on koalas.Use our template
Using your default email client? Click here to auto-generate an email.
Read the full story