Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
Master Plan Team
2 Brindabella Circuit
Canberra Airport Master Plan
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
FOG appreciates the opportunity it has had over the past few years to consult regularly with Canberra Airport Group on conservation issues concerning the endangered natural temperate grasslands, dependent species such as the Grassland Earless Dragon, and offset actions in response to developments in the airport grounds.
This Master Plan marks an important new development with the incorporation of environmental issues within the plan, rather than giving them separate treatment. However, FOG is concerned that as a consequence the environmental issues, at least in terms of endangered ecosystems and species, are covered in a very perfunctory manner. In the present draft they are little more than listed, and an important section in the Chapter on the environment is missing, namely Section 15.5.
In FOG’s view the Master Plan should be an important environmental document, setting out fully the environmental issues in the Appendix and summarising the more important elements in Chapter 15. The Appendix should also provide references to the relevant documents created by the airport and by environmental agencies, preferably with details of how to access them – on websites or by contacting the relevant body.
The Appendix should also contain some sort of narrative or storyline about the native temperate grassland and its associated endangered species. Some of the elements of such a storyline would include the following:
Canberra Airport (CA) is located partially on endangered native temperate grassland (NTG), and is next to other areas of NTG. CA has management plans in place to manage its NTG and associated endangered species (ES). It has mapped the grassland areas and conducts regular surveys of both the grasslands and the animals therein (provide details). It has sponsored research on some species. It has also successfully rehabilitated some grassland areas that have been disturbed by development at the airport.
Any development at the airport that impacts on threatened ecosystems or species requires approval under the EPBC Act. CA has sought such approval on three occasions (give details). Approval has been given subject to conditions and offsets have been required. CA has bought and manages an offsite offset site. It is also attempting to create an onsite offset, in association with Greening Australia. CA has also attempted translocation of endangered species from development sites, but this was not successful, however important lessons were learnt through this process that need to be made public. Great care is taken to minimise the impact of any new developments on adjacent endangered NTG and ES. The offset arrangements for the Northern Road proposal should also be set out.
Also, in section 10.9 there is mention of the possibility of purchase of land near the airport for future growth (p 129, para 4). However, the possible conflicts that might arise with environmental concerns (given the high conservation values of some natural temperate grassland areas near the airport) is not specifically referred to – there is only brief mention of habitat protection areas in the first para on p 130, with the main emphasis being on bird strike issues. This paragraph should make specific reference to potential conflict with environmental values with regard to airport expansion.
FOG is happy to elaborate further on any aspects of this submission. Please contact Tony Lawson at email@example.com or 61619430.
13 June 2014