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S66 Deakin: complaints that spoil dumping will cause environmental damage

On 6 January 2018, the President, Red Hill Regenerators wrote to the Commonwealth Office of Compliance, Dept of Environment and Energy, and the Compliance Officer ACT Government, about possible environmental damage resulting from ad hoc spoil dumping on S66 Deakin.  He wrote:

Complaint re dumping of spoil on Critically Endangered Yellow Box – Red Gum Woodland at Lots 7 and 8 Section 66 Deakin, ACT. 

The Red Hill Regenerators are a community group that has been caring for Red Hill for more than 25 years. In terms of remnant size (400ha), plant diversity (250+ plant species), number of rare and threatened species (30+) and connectivity, Red Hill supports one of the most significant Yellow Box – Red Gum woodland patches remaining anywhere.

We are concerned by the dumping of spoil on top of woodland under-storey within Lots 7 and 8 Section, 66 Deakin. We understand the lease for this land is held by the Hindmarsh group,

The dumping has occurred over the last two years and currently amounts to about 60 seperate piles of dirt, gravel and building waste, each pile appears to be about the volume that can be carried by a 2 tonne truck. The total area covered is about 50m x 20m. Pictures are enclosed.

The pictures clearly demonstrate that dumping has occurred on top of woodland species such as sticky everlasting, Blakley’s red gum seedlings and native corkscrew and wallaby grasses.

The woodland on which the spoil has been dumped is a continuous and integral part of the wider woodland patch, and added to the wider diversity as it is a locally rare occurrence of the ecotone between Natural Temperate Grassland and Box-Gum Woodland.

The site of the dumping is mapped as Box-Gum woodland within the ACT Government’s publicly accessible ACTMAPi map information layers.

http://app.actmapi.act.gov.au/actmapi/index.html?viewer=ssvcrt

It was also mapped as Box Gum woodland within the following ACT Government Technical Report. Maguire O. and Mulvaney M. (2011). Box Gum Woodland in the ACT. Technical Report 25. Technical report (Australian Capital Territory. Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate) ; 25.

The Red Hill Regenerators also understand that as part of aged care and other development proposals in 2005 and 2007, Hindmarsh were informed by ACT Government ecologists that the lots supported Box-Gum woodland. Certainly, the presence of the woodland was part of submissions made by Red Hill Regenerators into the planning and development considerations, as well as a letter written directly to the Hindmarsh Group requesting control of African Lovegrass on their Lease. 2005 and 2007 reports by Geoff Butler, a consultant to the Hindmarsh Group, also identified Box Gum woodland on site, albeit he rated it as a low quality.

Red Hill Regenerators recently (14 December 2017) surveyed two 20m x 20m plots immediately to the south-west and east of the dumped spoil. The data is attached and indicates a diverse and high quality under-storey. In summary, one plot contained 26 native plants  and in the other 31, both plots had five important species and 18 and 20 native herb species respectively. In addition, on 29 December 2007, the Red Hill Regenerators surveyed across lots 7 and 8 and observed 51 native woodland plants. This list is also attached.

We would appreciate being kept informed of the action that your departments intend to take against the dumping.

On 2 February 2018, the following reply was received from the Commonwealth department of Environment & Energy:

As you may be aware, the Commonwealth regulates actions that are likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance, such as Box-Gum Woodland. The area of disturbance you have reported is unlikely to be a significant impact for the purposes of theEnvironment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. I will discuss the matter further with Craig’s team at ACT Government and let you know the outcome.

Tyrie Starrs
Senior Compliance Officer | Compliance Section

Office of Compliance
Department of the Environment and Energy

GPO Box 787 Canberra ACT 2601

Ph: 02 6274 1507

E: tyrie.starrs@environment.gov.au

On 9 February 2018, the following was received from the Manager, Licensing & Compliance, Parks & Conservation, ACT Government

Thank you for reporting this matter to the ACT Parks and Conservation Service(PCS).

PCS administers the Nature Conservation Act 2014 and conducts a risk-based compliance program. Your report will be assessed and may be allocated for investigation. An investigating officer may contact you for a witness statement.

Craig Jones

Manager, Licensing and Compliance|Parks and Conservation

T 02 6207 1283| M 0481 917860| F  02 6207 2544 | E craigs.jones@act.gov.au

Environment Division

Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate| ACT Government

500 Cotter Road, Weston Creek  ACT  2611

http://www.environment.act.gov.au/