Urban bushland falls to the bulldozer

CLEARING has begun on a Brisbane bushland site after the State Government quietly waved through an approval despite huge community opposition.

Fig Tree Pocket resident Campbell Walter, who lives next door to the Jesmond Rd site, said they got wind of the approval late last week while they were in Melbourne.

They contacted the Environment Department but despite their efforts excavators moved in last Friday and were still at work on Tuesday.

Campbell Walter's drone footage of the clearing at Jesmond Rd in Fig Tree Pocket.

Mr Walter took dramatic footage of the destruction from his drone, which he said was operated legally from his 5000sq m property adjoining a Brisbane City Council “drone-friendly’’ public park.

It did not fly over the airspace on the property, which is being subdivided for housing by the son of one of Toowoomba’s biggest property developers.

“A 28-tonne excavator went down to the gully this morning even though it’s a protected zone,’’ Mr Walter said.

“They have earmarked that area for a drainage pipe.

How part of the area cleared this week looked before excavators moved in.

“They stopped when they saw me but came back later in the day and pushed over trees even though there was no wildlife spotter or arborist present (that he could see).’’

Mr Walter believed the State Government’s approval violated its own laws because residents had video and photographic evidence of protected species on the site, including an echidna and flying foxes, despite an environmental report concluding that no such species existed on the site.

State Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, said he was shocked to hear about the clearing.

Greens MP for Maiwar Michael Berkman was shocked to hear of the clearing. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

“This important wildlife corridor is home to a number of significant and vulnerable species including squirrel gliders, mountain brushtail possums, owls, wallabies and echidnas,’’ he said.

“I was given assurances from State Government late last year that the developer would need to undertake a flora survey and get approvals under the Nature Conservation Act before removing vegetation.

“Last week I wrote to Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch to clarify whether the developer had the requisite approvals to ensure the clearing was even legal.

“The department has now told us that, in December 2018, they granted the developer an exemption to conduct some clearing without a permit.

“While we were pleased that the Department intervened last year to investigate, it’s really frustrating to see how little information is now being given to the public about what’s going on.’’

A petition organised by his office garnered more than 600 signatures in just a few weeks.

Comment has been sought from Ms Enoch’s office.

Brisbane City Council has previously said its hands were tied because the site was approved for subdivision many years ago by the previous Soorley Labor administration.

 

Brendan O'Malley, Westside News, 23 January 2019

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