109 Foreshore Drive development report shows impacts on thirteen species

Community members with their arms linked in solidarity at this week’s candlelight vigil at the contentious lot of land which they believe must stay in community hands.

PORT Stephens Council has received the ecological report it commissioned on 109 Foreshore Drive, as the fight to sell or hold the land continues.

Some Councillors remain committed to saving the land for community use, while others are determined to see it sell.

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The Mambo Wanda Wetlands Conservation Group is keen to preserve the land, which they believe is vital habitat for the endangered koala species as well as twelve other threatened fauna species including the masked owl, squirrel glider, and four types of bat; all identified in the Wildthing Ecological Report commissioned by Port Stephens Council.

Members of the conservation group believe the Mayor contradicted the report findings at the Council meeting on 22 March, when he stated that the only species with a high likelihood of occurrence within the study area was the koala.

As identified in the report, 109 Foreshore Drive is utilised by a small number of koalas.

The report concludes the likely direct impacts from the sale of the land would result in the likely removal of one large euc. Tereticornis (Forest Red Gum) containing two small hollows, and a small incremental reduction in the habitat of thirteen addressed fauna species.

The report also covered the potential impact on three trees on the boundary of the land.

Report findings showed any proposed future development will result in a small incremental reduction in the local endangered ecological community and a number of threatened species within the local area, however it is unlikely to be significant.

It is very difficult to determine the significance, in relation to the reduction in quality and width of the movement corridor, on the local population of koalas.

Kathy Brown of the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Conservations Group told News Of The Area, “Page 33 of the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy states that the NSW Government is in the process of securing a consistent ownership and management regime for the significant green corridors of the region.

“It then goes on to state that additional protection of the biodiversity and conservation values of the green corridors will be achieved through appropriate planning controls on private lands, as well as the exclusion of one-off development proposals in these areas.”

Kathy believes that state planning policy is very clear in stating that the incremental destruction of areas of high environmental value will no longer be accepted and that current state planning policy is to reverse the incremental destruction of significant biodiversity corridors, fauna and flora.

“Members of Mambo Wanda Wetlands Conservation Group are hopeful that the information in the ecological report and the work being done by Council’s new Financial Committee, may see 109 Foreshore Drive saved as community land.

Over the weekend, concerned locals returned to 109 Foreshore Drive for a candlelight vigil.

Councillor Leah Anderson told News Of The Area, “It was wonderful to spend time this afternoon with our passionate community who are not going to give up the fight to save 109 Foreshore Drive!

“With the deadline of June 30 looming, they braved the chilly weather to come together and discuss an update on 109.

“They are anxious to hear if Council’s finance committee can come up with other solutions to help fix Council’s current dire financial situation.

“The sale of 109 should not be on the agenda and I will continue to fight alongside the community to ensure we get this iconic parcel of land officially reclassified to community land, so we can finally all relax and not be constantly on the lookout for a for sale sign.

“The campaign continues to #save109,” she said.

By Marian SAMPSON

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