A GROUP calling itself the Hunter Wildlife Warriors has complained to Maitland City Council and other authorities over a subdivision in the rapidly expanding residential area of Thornton along Raymond Terrace Road.
The Sydney developer, Yeramba Estates, says the work complained about is legal and that a "drained waterway" at the heart of the dispute was a former farm dam that will be rebuilt.
Maitland council sent inspectors to the site yesterday morning and said late yesterday afternoon that the developer had the required state government and council approvals "at this point".
The site in question is a 71-lot subdivision planned for 508 Raymond Terrace Road, Thornton, one of a series of former rural-residential properties along the thoroughfare that are being redeveloped into standard residential subdivisions.
Some of the areas were previously cleared while others are wooded with regrowth forest, and are regarded by environmentalists as important areas for wildlife preservation.
In a posting on its Facebook page, the Hunter Wildlife Warriors last week decried the destruction of habitat at the site in question.
"We are devastated," the post began. "This is how much Maitland City Council and developers care about our precious habitats and ecosystems!
"They have completely drained a vital wildlife waterhole and delicate ecosystem that was thriving with life at Thornton (such as frogs, tadpoles, wood ducks and ducklings, dragonflies, insects etc - along with numerous native birds, marsupials, macropods and even a threatened species on site: the brush tailed phascogale) at the end of Hillgate Drive . . ."
"But they have failed us yet again," the post continued. "We are taking this matter further and I have reported this to Maitland City Council, the local Member of Parliament, NPWS, the EPA and Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR).
A spokesperson for Yeramba said the water body in question was an old farm dam and that the area in question would be rehabilitated.
He said condition 50b of the development consent said: "The existing dam shall be decommissioned. A geotechnical report and civil engineers design shall be provided for the new basin wall including any required clay core or equivalent."
He said the works had been authorised by the NRAR.
The council statement:
"At this point, the developer has obtained the required approvals from state government and council for this work.
Consent was granted in 2013 for a 36 Lot Residential Subdivision and 1 Conservation Lot, and a residue lot on the subject property. This development application provided a stormwater strategy for the site, which included managing stormwater via modification of an existing dam as well as grass swales and offline water treatment structures.
The NSW Office of Water issued General Terms of Approval (GTAs), subject to consent conditions, to manage the stormwater strategy's impacts on the site, including the modification of the existing dam.
Following the GTAs, the NSW Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) issued a Controlled Activity Approval on 2 December 2020 outlining that the developer is responsible for re-vegetating the riparian corridor, maintaining these works for two years, monitoring and reporting to NRAR.
Subsequently, Council has issued a Subdivision Works Certificate for these works. The NRAR and Council approvals for converting the existing dam to a dry online stormwater detention basin align with the guidelines for riparian corridors on waterfront land.
The area of the subdivision is currently zoned R1 General Residential and E3 Environmental Management. While the works happening on the dam site are located within a small portion of the E3 Environmental zone, they were necessary to enable compliance with the guidelines for riparian corridors on water front land, will be re-vegetated and make up part of 7.6 hectares retained untouched for environmental purposes within the E3 zoned area."
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: