A new development in the Mirador area is of deep concern for a number of reasons. Wendy Wait, Convenor of Forces for Nature has written the following letter to our Mayor and Councillors. You may want to raise your concerns with Council and/or discuss this with friends and neighbours. Once these habitats are destroyed we can’t rebuild them to what they were, particularly if there are endangered species there.
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
We write to raise our deep concerns about the Council’s plans to permit RCL Group to be allowed to clear fell a 10 ha bushland corridor between Tura Beach and Mirador.
Council must be aware that this is an area of remnant mature coastal forest with unique biodiversity values: it provides a high number of hollow bearing trees and quality ground cover habitat that support a range of threatened flora and fauna species including – but not limited to – the Merimbula Starhair, the hollow-dependent Yellow-bellied Glider, Eastern Pygmy Possum, Glossy Black-cockatoo, and Gang-gang Cockatoo. The Powerful Owl and Barking Owl are frequently heard calling and possibly breed here. It provides foraging habitat for the Grey-headed Flying fox and the critically endangered Swift Parrot.
Council must be aware that there is a significant number of the endangered plant Merimbula Starhair on the development site. This plant is endemic to the Tura Beach area and has special protection in NSW where it is listed as a SAII species under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act (species at risk of ‘Serious and Irreversible Impact’). Following the BC Act, the consent authority must not grant development approval if it is determined that a development proposal is likely to have a serious and irreversible impact on this plant (Clause 6.7 of the Biodiversity Regulation 2017).
Council must be aware that this land provides a critical east-west corridor for animals to move between the Bega Aboriginal Land Council land immediately adjoining to the north and west, to enable them to move freely to fresh water sources and the coastal forest to the east. By allowing all this land to be developed you are not only removing critical habitat but isolating native fauna in a small coastal zone bordered by urbanisation with no movement corridors and access to water.
We are aware that Council listed the very same bushland site as a heritage site in July 2021. It appears that despite making this declaration, that Council is now willing to let a private developer trample the very heritage status of the site that Council saw fit to protect as recently as last year. Why is Council rushing to approve clearing of bushland despite making the site a heritage protected site last year?
We are aware that the same developer has been investigated by Council and subsequently fined for allowing pollution from earlier stages of the Mirador development to run into the Back Lake at Merimbula. The Council has now listed this site as part of a protected riparian and watercourse zone that runs into Back Lake. What steps has the Council and its employees making this decision for the developer taken to ensure that the same developer will not allow exactly the same thing to happen from this site?
Finally, we are now aware that the Council has undertaken no public consultation and will not allow any members of the community to access the Council’s files or to obtain any information about the development. We are aware that the Council has been advised of community concerns that the development consent given to the developer over thirty years ago may no longer be valid. Has Council taken any steps to consider whether the development is still suitable and appropriate for the local community?
We are deeply concerned that the Council considers it appropriate to rush through a decision about clearing bushland in the local community particularly after so much bushland was lost in the Black Summer fires and where Council is not allowing the community to know about what is happening in the process.
We ask that you please urgently personally intervene in this matter and ensure that the process is undertaken openly, fairly and with proper consideration of the best interests of the Merimbula, Mirador and Tura Beach communities.
Convenor Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast- Forces for Nature group