Letter from Craig Thomson, President AWPC
Dated 23 January 2017.
Subject: Lee st Retarding Basin Frankston
Addressed to: David.Fairbridge@frankston.vic.gov.au (Biodiversity Officer at Frankston Council), firstname.lastname@example.org (Minister for Police and Water) email@example.com (email address for Melbourne Water retardant basin upgrades).
The Australian Wildlife Protection Council understands and recognise the needs to protect our communities from potential danger. We are also aware that the removal of vegetation has an impact on wildlife species. In fact it is a guarantee that wildlife will be killed during works that clear vegetation. As such we expect that every possible measure is undertaken to see if in fact clearing is necessary and if so that appropriate actions are taken and that local wildlife shelters are not left too pick up the pieces of poor planning.
We have received concern from the local community members that the threat of flooding to the local community at the Lee St retarding basin has not deemed a risk in the past and believe the proposed clearance of vegetation is excessive and will have significant impact on fauna as well as other issues, particularly of erosion and dust as well. So the Australian Wildlife Protection Council would greatly appreciate if you could answer the following questions;
-What pre-fauna surveys have been carried out and when?
-What species have been identified on site?
-What are the actions have been put into place for fauna pre, during and post construction activities for fauna?
-Which wildlife rescue groups, wildlife shelters and vets have been contacted to look after or treat any injured wildlife?
-What arrangements have been made to financially compensate these groups?
-Do local wildlife shelters have the capacity to look after injured wildlife, as they could be attending to heat stress events or bushfire effected wildlife?
-What measures have been taken to install nest boxes or other artificial habitat for displaced wildlife?
-Do they have appropriate wildlife handling permits as well as permits to have protected wildlife euthanised if injured or unable to relocate wildlife in a safe distance from their habitat loss?
-What community groups have they contacted to work with as stated in their community information sheet? [Ref: ] “We understand the importance of trees to the local community and are committed to working closely with council, residents and community groups to develop an appropriate plan for reinstatement of trees else where in the area” in the information document provided for this project https://www.melbournewater.com.au/sites/default/files/2018-01/Communitybulletin-LeeStreet.pdf
-Where are other trees being planted, what species are to be planted and how many?
-Are offsets being provided?
-Is there an arborist report of the trees health?
-Can records of water depth be provided for the Lee St retarding basin to show threat of flooding to neighbouring properties over the years of its existence?
-Can modelling or records be provided of local flooding for once in a 40+ year storm event?
-What are the EPA regulations you are keeping to with to for this project?
-Can you provide a copy of the ANCOLD guidelines?
The Australian Wildlife Protection Council also has the understanding that you are in the process of selling off land on McClelland Dve to Ambulance Victoria for an ambulance station and another permit application has been made by Log Cabin Caravan Park. In fact we believe that all land owned by Melbourne Water from Skye Rd to Frankston/Cranbourne Rd is being considered surplus land by Melbourne Water. So it appears there are several sites across the Frankston city council municipality owned by Melbourne Water that poses a potential loss of biodiversity.
So the final question we have to you is what is Melbourne Water’s commitment to biodiversity in Frankston?
Eve Kelly, Secretary of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council writes post script..
Planning for Wildlife and Associated Costs
Having a plan of how to deal with wildlife well before the clearing commences is paramount and note: not all ecological consultants are trained in wildlife spotting or wildlife handling and relocation and none will have facilities or permits to rehabilitate injured or orphaned wildlife.
For wildlife relocation to be successful, with possums in particular, it needs to be planned well in advance, for example, adult possums must trapped, taken into care and bonded to a nest box and then released nearby with their new nest box. Simply installing nest boxes is not effective and is essentially a waste of resources and time, most nest-boxes will be left empty or eventually inhabited by introduced species of birds or bees. Relocating possums without a nest into another possum’s territory is cruel as it will result in fighting and injured and/or displaced animals coming down to the ground and at risk of predation or vehicle collision.
In the planning for wildlife relocation, it is necessary to engage with local wildlife shelters, who are permitted to rehab possums and vets. If possums drop their pouch young these animals need to be hand-reared before they can be released back into the wild. Pouch young may take up to 7 months to rear. It costs between $200 -$1000 to rear one possum from the pouch to release. These costs are invariably paid by volunteer wildlife shelters. The time and effort, already stretched in these vital shelters, is also pushed to breaking point when habitat is cleared without proper planning and communication.
Government departments must not only plan appropriately for the humane treatment of wildlife but compensate and duly pay for the wildlife expenses that are generated from displacing wildlife.