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Community Forced to Step In to Protect Westbury Reserve

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 19 October 2020

Tags: Westbury, Northern Prison, Environment, Threatened Species, Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

The reprieve for Westbury Reserve, set to be drilled today, is welcome - but only temporary. 

Geo-Environmental Solutions’ contractors and their three large drilling vehicles visited the Reserve today to commence exploratory drilling, but left, apparently due to wet ground conditions. 

There’s been no official reason given, nor has a timeline for recommencing the drilling that will put the local Wedge-tailed eagle nest at risk been provided. The government needs to be clear with the community - it’s public land after all. 

The notable absence of an environmental consultant to oversee the activity of drilling contractors at Westbury Reserve today says everything about Environment Minister, Roger Jaensch’s dismissive attitude towards environmental protection. 

In the absence of an on-site environmental expert, the community stepped in and walked the site with contractors, alerting them to the presence of species. They identified the rare blue pin cushion, the canary worm, the grey shrike thrush, nodding greenhood orchids, the handsome hook sedge, and nursery logs for striated pardalotes and quolls.

The on-ground information provided by locals to contractors at the Westbury Reserve would have been a powerful incentive for them to leave. That they had no expert on the site to prevent the damaging impacts of drilling activities on rare, threatened, and endangered flora and fauna is an indictment on both Minister Jaensch and Corrections Minister, Elise Archer.

Have the government provided drilling contractors with the recently updated Natural Values Atlas for the Reserve, which includes the 15 years of observations from renowned field naturist, Sarah Lloyd? This is the same research that contributed to her being awarded an Order of Australia medal this year. 

Without the updated Natural Values Atlas, and unaccompanied by an environmental consultant, contractors could be damaging or destroying listed rare, vulnerable or threatened plants and animals, and their habitat, when they drive and do works around the Reserve.

The responsibility for protecting Tasmania’s threatened flora and fauna sits with Environment Minister, Roger Jaensch. He needs to step in. 

We call on Minister Jaensch to take advantage of this short reprieve and demand Minister Archer halt drilling activities during Wedge-tailed eagle breeding season. These works also cannot go ahead without on-site expert environmental advice to protect threatened natural values.