Potential breaches of Commonwealth laws following the commencement of construction works at the new Tweed Valley Hospital site have been raised by NSW Greens MP, Dawn Walker. Concerns over damage to the habitat of endangered species have also been raise.
‘Excavation works have started at the new Tweed Valley Hospital site with the construction of extensive water holding ponds and associated earth works that appear to discharge directly into state-protected wetlands,’ said Ms Walker.
‘These wetlands have been identified in Commonwealth legislation as vital habitat and a corridor for a number of Threatened and Endangered Species, including the Critically Endangered Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail which is known to live in this area.
‘I’ve written to the state environment minister, Gabrielle Upton asking her to investigate potential breaches of environmental law and whether Health Infrastructure NSW was legally obliged to refer works that impact on the habitat of Mitchell’s Rainforest snail to the Commonwealth government, as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
‘Indeed, any activity that is likely to adversely impact habitat critical to the survival of an endangered species is regarded as a matter of national environmental significance and must be referred for assessment under federal environment law.
‘I stand with community members who are rightly concerned about the rushed nature of the excavation works that are being carried out for the new Tweed Valley Hospital and the environmental impact on adjoining wetlands and the endangered species that live there,’ she said
Major tender awarded
In the meantime Member for Tweed Geoff Provest announced that Lendlease Building has been appointed to progress the next stage of planning and design, and subject to planning approvals undertake early works for the new hospital.
‘The planning and early works package – worth around $25 million combined – includes on-site activities such as bulk earthworks, retaining walls, establishment of in-ground services and roadworks, which are subject to and will commence following approval of the Stage 1 State Significant Development application,’ said Mr Provest.
Health Infrastructure has confirmed that, ‘Stormwater management works have commenced on the Cudgen Road site to reduce the amount of sediment and other pollutants that can wash from the farmland into the environmental area under heavy rainfall.
However, they provided no response to the question regarding the discharge of water and earthworks into state-protected wetlands.