Endangered plant causes Huntlee hiccup

Endangered plant causes Huntlee hiccup

By Sam Norris

Sept. 7, 2012, midnight

  • PLANT.jpgAn endangered plant threatens to stunt the growth of Huntlee New Town with plans for 2042 homes under threat after the shrub was listed number four of Australia’s top five at-risk plants.

An endangered plant threatens to stunt the growth of  Huntlee New Town with plans for 2042 homes under threat after the shrub was listed number four of Australia’s top five at-risk plants.

Cessnock Greens councillor James Ryan said the North Rothbury persoonia’s entry to the top five nationally endangered species list was evidence that plans for the Huntlee development should be scrapped.

“I hope it tells the Department of Planning that it needs to reassess the importance of this plant and adjust this development,” he said.

“It will simply become extinct if Huntlee goes ahead as is.”

The Australian Network for Plant Conservation named Persoonia pauciflora (or North Rothbury persoonia) as its fourth most threatened plant on the continent.

Cr Ryan said the land rezoned for Huntlee covered about half the remnant site of the dwarf persoonia – about two kilometres in diameter – between Branxton railway station and Tuckers Lane, North Rothbury.

“I don’t think this listing will stop Huntlee going ahead, but I think it will force the department to create a much bigger offset area for it,” Cr Ryan said.

“We will be writing to the minister and asking him to increase that area.”

The dwarf persoonia is already on the state and federal endangered species acts, but has not stopped plans for the creation of the new town, at North Rothbury, as a state significant development. Cr Ryan said it simply wasn’t possible to squeeze 1701 building lots onto the 50 hectares, as proposed, and protect the shrub.

“It doesn’t mean that no houses would be built there,” Cr Ryan said. “There are areas that have been previously cleared and would be suitable, but it would mean a very-scaled-down Huntlee.”

The department of planning has given zoning approval for the home of the dwarf persoonia, setting aside an exclusion zone to develop for conservation purposes.

“To say there are adequate offsets for this plant is ridiculous and insulting,” Cr Ryan said. “It’s like a postage stamp.”

Dwarf persoonia is a schedule 1a critically endangered species of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. It is also on the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Persoonia species are commonly known as the geebung, derived from the Aboriginal word jibbong referring to the edible fruits of some of the species.

The Australian Network for Plant Conservation produced 21 of Australia’s Most Threatened Plants to mark its 21st anniversary and endangered species day, today.

ANPC is a volunteer, not-for-profit organisation governed by a constitution with its headquarters in Canberra.

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