Hectares of native trees, wildlife destroyed for development
CENTURY-old trees have been knocked down and native wildlife are without their homes after a developer has cleared land on a prime block of wetlands in the heart of Yeppoon.
501 Paradise Grove, off Rockhampton Rd and neighbouring with the Pineapple Rail Trail, is home to the blue kingfisher, Australian sugar glider, microbats and parrots along with numerous other Australian animals.
The 6.25 hectare block of land sold for $660,000 in September 2017 to a Brisbane based company, Paradise Grove Pty Ltd.
It previously sold for $1.6 million in 2015 and the land itself was valued at $550,000 in June 2017.
The Yeppoon block was listed as a 38 lot development, with residential lots between 600m2 and 1300m2.
The site was first granted approval by Livingstone Shire Council in 2009 with the previous owners, Seaview Developments Pty Ltd.
Livingstone Shire Council approved an application for operational works for clearing works on the block in June 2018.
The Council's decision notice document includes a vegetation clearing and management plan, submitted by Saunders Havill Group, which states that tree protection fencing is to be installed prior to the commencement of any clearing works.
However, a nearby resident, Mick Rodgers, claims workers began clearing the site some months ago and has not seen any information or signage on the works.
The Morning Bulletin can confirm as of last week no bunting had been erected.
It is understood Livingstone Shire Council was made aware of this late last week and the developers were ordered a cease work notice.
In response to the lack of bunting protection, Livingstone Shire Council replied with the following statement.
"The developer is complying with requests from council to attend to matters associated with the management of the impacts of the work currently being undertaken," the statement read.
"Officers will continue to monitor the site and liaise with the contractors and consulting engineers to ensure the requirements of the applicable development permits are satisfied."
The approval conditions of the application also states fauna and habitat management is to be undertaken and all clearing works must be halted if fauna is likely to be injured.
A qualified fauna spotter/catcher must be on site prior to and during any vegetation felling activities.
There is no suggestion that these conditions were not complied with.
The application includes a count taken in January 2018 of more than 100 trees on the land, including spotted gums, forest red gums, swamp box, Moreton Bay ash, pink bloodwood, grey bloodwood, brush box, narrow-leaved ironbark, Burdekin plum and thin leafed stringybark trees. An extensive flora list was also submitted.
The council confirmed an environmental assessment was prepared with the application and an assessment was carried out by the State Department of Natural Resources and Water.
"The state approved the development, imposing a condition that allowed clearing of native vegetation for urban purposes only," a spokesperson said.
Council approved the development subject to conditions requiring rehabilitation of vegetation and habitat areas and protection of vegetation through a community management scheme over eight lots adjoining the area of environmental significance and the retention of two large lots as common property for vegetation protection, habitat management and drainage."
Mr Rodgers questioned why the council approved the application in the first place and that there should have been community consultation.
He said it was a rare parcel of wetlands and parkland in the heart of Yeppoon.
"Why can't they do it (development) out of town that doesn't have 100-year-old trees and native wildlife, it's not just a paddock with scrub trees," he said.
The site is not officially marked by the council as a parkland/wetland, however it is well loved as a nature reserve next to the Pineapple Rail Trail.
"A waterway is mapped through the southern portion of the site and locally significant vegetation was also mapped on the site (around the waterway) which is to be retained or rehabilitated in line with the conditions of approval," a spokesperson said.