Bega Valley Shire Council rejects land swap for controversial development, fears over endangered species persist

Conservationists say a pocket of pristine bush on the NSW south coast, and the endangered species that live there, remain under threat from a ‘zombie’ housing estate as the local council rejects the idea of a land swap.

The proposed development is expected to take place on approximately 10 hectares of bushland at Mirador, between Merimbula and Tura Beach, which is home to endangered species such as the long-nosed potoroo and the Merimbula star-haired shrub.

The Development Application (DA) for the proposed subdivision was filed in 1989.

Many communities across NSW have seen several such projects, colloquially known as “zombie developments”, resurrected after a decades-long hiatus, according to Cate Faehrmann, Greens member of the NSW Legislative Council.

“These zombie ADs are happening across the coast from Kingscliff to Yamba, South West Rocks to Port Macquarie and all along the South Coast.”

The area is home to a number of endangered species, including the long-nosed potoroo.(Provided: Andrew Shipway)

Following community protests against the Mirador development, developer RCL Group said it was open to a land swap with the local Bega Valley Shire Council.

However, council CEO Anthony McMahon said he had not been approached by the developer to consider a land swap.

“Even if the council hasn’t been approached, if asked, the council just doesn’t have land to trade,” he said.

group of people standing with their backs to the camera in the bush listening to the speaker
Community members protested the proposed development, gathering at the site to voice their concerns.(ABC South East NSW: Alex Hargraves)

Federal assessment required

According to the Federal Department of the Environment, any project that may impact endangered species, such as the long-nosed potoroo, “must be submitted to the department” for review.

However, a spokesman told the ABC he had not received a response from the Bega Valley Shire Council.

“A search of the department’s internal databases has not yielded evidence at this point to suggest that the department has received a referral or investigation regarding a development between Tura Beach and Mirador,” a spokesperson said.

bush surrounding a lagoon
The nominated site is home to a number of threatened species.(Provided: Save Tura Beach Biodiversity)

The Bega Valley Shire Council did not respond directly to questions about the requirement, but Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said he was confident council staff were following the correct processes.

“What’s happening right now is that the building certificate application is being considered,” he said.

“And I’m sure our planning team would look at those issues and reference them if necessary.”

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