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Endangered Ecological Communities bulldozed "by mistake" during Serenity Cove Film Studio operations

7 April 2004

Sutherland Shire Council and NPWS are investigating the removal of approximately 5 hectares of bushland at the rear of the Abbotts Australasia site at Kurnell. The bushland removed includes three endangered ecological communities protected under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, these include the Kurnell Dune Forest , Sydney Freshwater Wetlands and the Sydney Coastal Estuary Swamp Forest Complex . In addition to this, potential habitat for the endangered Green & Golden Bell Frog has been removed (the GGBF was recorded on the site approximately 7 years ago, but has not been recorded on site since), and habitat of the Grey Headed Flying Fox (GHFF), was also removed. There is currently a camp of approximately 500 GHFF in the area.

There are no other such camps in the Sutherland Shire.

In addition to the removal of the bushland, fill had been imported onto the site for road and work pad construction, some of this fill had been placed adjacent to and within the wetland areas of the site.

Sutherland Shire Council is currently investigating who is responsible for these works.

Since discovering these activities on site the Council and NPWS have been working with the land-holder improve the situation on the site. This has involved:
  • Removal of all fill from the areas within and adjacent to the wetlands.

  • Development of a Film Management Plan for the site, which identifies areas where filming activities, car parking, set construction amenity provision can be located, and high conservation areas identified as "no go" areas, where barricades are used to exclude personnel.

  • Preparation of a rehabilitation plan for the disturbed areas of the site.

In addition to the clearing works, there has been testing of pyrotechnics, involving explosions, on the site associated with the filming activities. These explosions have a potential to impact on the Grey Headed Flying Fox. A range of measures have been devised (by Serenity Cove Film Studios, Council and NPWS) and implemented to minimise these potential impacts. To date this has included:
  • A requirement for the monitoring of the impact of pyrotechnics on the GHFF colony.

  • Relocating the testing area to a location more distant from the GHFF, and behind a mound of sand to act as a sound barrier. This moved the activity from approximately 150m from the colony to over 300m from the colony. When this still produced a significant impact on the GHFF, testing of pyrotechnics not associated with filming activities on this site was moved to an alternative location.

  • Limitation on frequency of pyrotechnics, and continued monitoring.

To date, while the pyrotechnics have disturbed the bats, they have not resulted in the harm ( as in injury, death, capture, trapping, etc) of the bats. The pyrotechnics are being undertaken outside the breeding season, and there are no young within the colony who are not capable of flight, which assists in minimising the impact.

Investigations and monitoring of the situation on the site are continuing.
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