In the previous issue of STEP Matters we provided information on what wasn’t happening with the Mirvac development on the IBM site next to Cumberland State Forest.
A local planning panel meeting was finally held on 15 September to determine whether to approve Mirvac’s development application to demolish the IBM buildings and the surrounding vegetation. There was a large number of passionate speakers opposing the DA.
The chief concern was the clearing of 1,253 trees. There is a basic disagreement as to whether most of this area can be classified as Blue Gum High Forest. Mirvac argued that they were planted as part of the creation of the IBM corporate park. Council documents show that most of the trees had naturally regenerated. But then council determined that it is okay to clear them because of other conditions that will be imposed such as biodiversity offsets, dedication of forest on other parts of the site to management by Forestry Corp (that is, to become part of Cumberland State Forest), some weed clearing and planting a measly 60 trees elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the planning panel approved the DA so, no doubt, the demolition will be starting soon. There were some minor amendments to the conditions of consent. There were no definite assurances that the trees would be checked for nesting birds or nocturnal animals before the clearing takes place.
An attempt was also made to get the clearing of Blue Gum High Forest assessed by the federal minister for the environment as a controlled action under the EPBC Act but that was unsuccessful.