For your urgent review!
As you may be aware, as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP), a planned hi-rail access point will result in the removal of, or damage to, Sites of Biological Significance located along the Heathmont railway, just north of Heathmont Station. Heathmont Bushcare has been managing one of these sites (named “the Station”) since its beginning in 1994.
A letter expressing Heathmont Bushcare’s concerns is under draft and is to be sent to the relevant State Government Minsters and other relevant authorities.
The main points of the letter and areas of concern/suggestion are provided below and aim to encourage that works avoid Sites of Biological Significance, or minimise impacts to them.
- There appears to have been insufficient review of the environmental values of the area, especially given existing expert knowledge of the sites and their biodiversity values;
- Heathmont Railway line is known for its diversity and extent of its orchid populations, and the subject sites are integral to this;
- Moving endangered plants elsewhere is not likely to be successful and these rare plants will in all likelihood be lost;
- Is there really a need for an access point at Heathmont? There are stretches of railway around the suburbs where access points are considerably further apart. There is already a similar facility 1.8km away in Bayswater North. As part of the process to demonstrate that reasonable steps have been taken to ‘avoid and minimise’ ecological impact we request serious consideration of whether that, or another site, might be a feasible alternative;
- If no alternative site can be found, and this must become an access point:
- A reduced access point footprint should be considered and biodiversity losses avoided by keeping the project as far south as possible;
- More creative footprints, as opposed to a simply rectangular one, should be considered, such that areas with native under-storey are avoided and the footprint is concentrated in the currently mown grass areas located to the south.
- Dialogue between the project designers and ecologists who have surveyed the sites’ vegetation must be ensured so as to optimise the accommodation of engineering and environmental objectives;
- There has been no consideration given to existing pedestrian thoroughfare that this access point will impact and how this can be catered for. The area has a lot of pedestrian use;
- The access point and its footprint, including access, fencing and hardstand areas will erode and destroy the amenity of the station area. Heathmont Station and the railway easement are known for their bushland character;
- Railway verges are important sites for remnant and now rare indigenous flora. Heathmont railway verges are no exception. When works such as level crossing removals are planned this needs to be considered and plans adapted accordingly. Once a species is gone, it’s gone. And we have lost many, many plant species already.
Please respond to this email if you any concerns with regards to the messaging proposed. Your response by the 1 June would be much appreciated (firstname.lastname@example.org).