PO Box A96, Sydney South NSW 1235 Ph: (02) 9233 4660 Fax: (02) 9233 4880

Media Releases to 11 June 1997


The peak State Council of the National Parks Association of NSW today called on the community to support the proposal by the Grafton District National Parks Advisory Committee to remove vehicles from Station Beach in Yuraygir National Park.

"It's about time that firm action was taken," said Noel Plumb, NPA Executive Officer. "This move should be applauded as it helps to protect an endangered species, the Little Tern, and will ultimately save many thousands of taxpayer dollars in repairing unnecessary access roads and compensation claims from vehicle injuries."

President of NPA's Three Valley"s Branch, Jim Tedder, said "We have been trying to protect the Little Tern colony in the dunes above Station Creek beach for several years from the 4WD traffic. These birds are endangered and Australia has signed an international agreement to help protect them."

"We are very concerned that the small population here, which nests directly on the sand, will be wiped out if we do not stop the 4WD access."

In December 1995 the Association carried out a survey to assess the impact of vehicles in that area. There were over two hundred Little Terns, including nesting birds, near the mouth of Station creek. During the night of the survey a vehicle drove right through the area.

Protection of the area and the birds requires restrictions on vehicle access, the closure of some tracks and the better maintenance of others.

The NPA believes the Station Creek camping ground should be upgraded and be the destination point for vehicles. People wishing to visit beautiful Pebbly Beach should have walking access from the camp ground on a bridge over the creek, allowing the current vehicle access to Pebbly Beach to be closed. West of Pebbly Beach access tracks are presently carved through sensitive wet heath areas, in some cases more than twenty metres wide.

"The threat to the Little Terns and the degradation of the heath and the general area by 4WD vehicles is a disgraceful situation anywhere, let alone in a National Park," said Mr Plumb. "We are sure that the majority of park users would welcome changes based on the exclusion proposed by the District Advisory Committee - a broad based group representing many divergent interests."

For further information, comment and site inspection ( there are excellent TV/photo opportunities) please contact: Jim Tedder 065 690 802 Noel Plumb 018 975 075

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Swamp Inquiry Exposes Mines Department Bias - Mining Leases "Expected" To Be Renewed
NPA Asks Premier to Intervene - Inquiry Resumes 12 May

An official of the Department of Mineral Resources admitted last week to a court of inquiry at Moss Vale that in deciding the renewal of peat mining leases significant weight was given by the Department to the lessee's expectation that the lease would be renewed. The official was giving evidence at the resumed Mining Warden's Inquiry into the renewal of the controversial peat mining leases over Wingecarribbee Swamp in the southern highlands .

"What a farce", said Noel Plumb, Executive Officer of the National Parks Association of New South Wales. "The community has a right to expect unbiased decision making which includes environmental protection as an equal priority to industry investment"

"This Department is a captive of the mining industry, although we actually don't believe that the broad mining industry would defend the destruction of the Wingecarribee Swamp for the small returns involved. The marketplace already has alternative, sustainable peat substitutes which do not require the destruction of a unique wetland and its endangered plants and animals'.

In evidence a senior official with 29 years service in the Department stated under cross examination that he could not recall a single case where renewal had been refused on environmental grounds , including the past 8 years when he was directly responsible for lease renewals.

"The inquiry is a doubtful forum to protect the environment. Local conservationists and environmental groups have had to wait for five years to challenge renewal of these leases because of delay by the Department but we feel that it's like appealing to Caesar against Caesar."

The National Parks Association has appealed directly to the Premier to intervene and find a way to circumvent this futile inquiry which is being run at great cost to the taxpayer.

"There are no less than five Government agencies opposing renewal of these leases on environmental grounds but none of them will take the available statutory or administrative steps which would effectively bring this wetlands destruction to an end. For instance Sydney Water could easily move to include the area within its protected catchment (which surrounds the swamp). The Environmental Protection Agency could stop bending over backwards to licence the continuing operations which are polluting the local water supply. Did the National Parks and Wildlife Service really have to provide a licence to destroy protected plants (Yellow Loosestrife) for another five years, rather than for three months only pending progress with the inquiry?"

"The National Parks Association has had a gutful of bureaucrats and politicians sitting on their hands, watching precious wetlands be destroyed for a few dollars. They have the power to put a stop to it and I am sure that most members of the public would agree if they knew the story."

"We have appealed to Mr Carr as so many Departments and Ministers are involved yet none of them appears to be fair dinkum about protecting the Wingecarribee Swamp. It's up to the Premier to take decisive action to prove that all his rhetoric about protecting the environment, protecting wetlands and protecting biodiversity is not just a lot of hot air."

"We are waiting for Mr Carr's response."

For further comment: Noel Plumb 9233 4660 or 018 975 075

Briefing Sheets on Wingecarribee Swamp are available from NPA. Tours of inspection and detailed briefings can be arranged with local environmental conservationists.

The Mining Warden's hearing resumes on 12 May at Moss Vale Court House.

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North Head Bandicoots - Last Stand Against Church Development

The National Parks Association has called on the Minister for the Environment to issue an interim protection order restraining a $23 million residential subdivision of St Patricks Estate by the Catholic Church. An order would prevent for up to 2 years any development of the land which threatened the endangered bandicoot population on North Head. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is now assessing the situation in order to advise the Minister.

Noel Plumb, Executive Officer of the NPA said, " We cannot see how the Service can fail to recommend to the Minister that the order be issued. The North Head bandicoot colony was listed as an endangered population under the Threatened Species Conservation Act on 28 February 1997. Unfortunately this came two days after the Land and Environment Court gave approval to the Church to clear remnant native vegetation for housing development on part of the St Patricks Estate, crucial habitat for the isolated colony of long-nosed bandicoots which lives on North Head."

The Challis Professor of Biology at Sydney University, Professor Ian Hume, gave evidence to the court that residential development of St Patrick's Estate would compromise any recovery plan for the bandicoots formulated by the NPWS consequent to the listing as an endangered population.

Mr Tim Flannery, Principal Research Scientist for mammals at the Australian Museum said, " We must fight to protect significant populations of small mammals given the appalling extinction of mammal species in New South Wales since European settlement. The North Head bandicoots and their habitat should not be sacrificed for housing development. It's a very selfish and short term view in the grand scheme of things."

Ms Christine Thomas, representing the residents group, Save St Patrick's Estate., said, "The threat to the North Head bandicoot colony from the proposed development has always been of great concern to the residents of Manly. It's one of the many reasons we are fighting to protect this precious site, and the Church needs to understand the community's level of commitment here. As a safeguard against bulldozers rolling, we have a 'Bandicoot Watch' in place over the site whilst the NPWS is preparing its report."

Mr Plumb added, "Doubtless we will be accused of attempting to throw a spoke in the wheel of progress. But, if the Threatened Species Conservation Act and the government's commitment to protect biodiversity, is to have any credibility, then these bandicoots should be given every possible protection. An interim protection order would allow Manly Council and the State Government to take up negotiations with the Church for some alternative development on the Estate which would neither prejudice the bandicoot population or the cultural or landscape values of the Estate."

For comment : Noel Plumb 9233 4660 or 018 975 075 Tim Flannery 9320 6114 Christine Thomas 9977 3314 or 9230 3804, Professor Hume 9351 2369

Photo opportunities for 'Bandicoot Watch' can be arranged as well as interviews.

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Berowra Valley Bulldozer Blockade - New Regional Park Under Threat

The National Parks Association today joined concerned residents in calling on the Minister for the Environment to intervene in clearing by Landcom of critical bushland above the new Berowra Valley Regional Park.

"Local conservationists and residents are standing in front of the bulldozers today at Hornsby Heights and are determined that this clearing will not proceed", said Noel Plumb, Executive Officer of the NPA.

Local conservationists claim that Landcom has 28 bushland sites waiting to be cleared on the rim of the Berowra Valley directly above the new Park and that this will have severe consequences for the water quality of Berowra Creek, the landscape of the Park and will involve the destruction of protected flora and fauna.

Local conservationist and organiser for the Berowra Valley United Residents Action Group, Mr John Donvito, said " "The Chakola Avenue site at Hornsby Heights is the first of 28 which Landcom wants to clear even though it is obvious that most of them should be added to the Regional Park given the broad community and scientific concern to protect remnant Sydney bushland."

"This is a feeding site for the threatened Red Tailed Glossy Black Cockatoo - we could see them feeding this morning as we stood in front of the bulldozer - and also endangered plant species that are protected. We are seeking urgent assistance from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to confirm the presence of these species and to ensure their protection."

Mr Plumb said, " NPA is concerned that the new Regional Park is not compromised from the outset by poor development immediately above it nor the loss of areas with high conservation value that should be added to the Park. We are joining local people to ask the Minister for the Environment to intervene and seek to have these areas added to the park wherever their conservation values warrant."

For comment: Mr John Donvito 018 476 965 Noel Plumb 9233 4660 or 018 975 075

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