Clearing of unburnt native forest for a proposed housing development on the NSW South Coast will face Federal Government assessment for its impacts on threatened species, including a colony of vulnerable grey-headed flying foxes, in a win for community campaigners.

People in Manyana have been fighting to preserve the 20-hectare site, which was spared from the devastating Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20 and has become a critical refuge for native plants and animals.

In May 2020, the Environmental Defenders Office represented Manyana Matters Environmental Association in court proceedings to protect the bushland.

On 27 May 2020, the Federal Court made orders noting an undertaking given by the developer that it would not commence clearing of any vegetation – other than that required for perimeter fencing – while an ecologist surveyed the land for the presence of the threatened Greater Glider.

The case was discontinued on 5 June 2020, except for costs, as the developer provided a further undertaking to give two weeks’ notice to Manyana Matters prior to commencing any work.  The matter was later referred to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to consider whether the development should be assessed under the EPBC Act.

On 16 August 2020, it was announced that the project required assessment under the EPBC Act.  The Minister has reportedly called for more studies on the development and its impact on threatened species, including the grey-headed flying fox and the Greater Glider.

Image: Flying fox in flight by cskk, available at Flickr under under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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