Wildlife bridge collapses

By Kirra Livingstone

HOPES of a wildlife bridge to help protect endangered animals in Ferny Forest have been dashed.

As reported in GC&M News last week there were calls for a bridge in the hinterland forest to counter the loss of habitat through a proposed 10km water pipeline extending from Ewen Maddock Dam to housing at the Aura estate.

UnityWater had paid some financial offsets for the pipeline to the Sunshine Coast Council and environmental advocates wanted to see those funds go towards a bridge.

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said although the council supported a wildlife bridge, the offsets paid to the Council ccould not be used to fund it.

“The offset funds are unable to be used for this purpose as the Environmental Offsets Act 2014 states that an environmental offset needs to replace the environmental matters impacted by the water pipeline project,” the Council spokesperson said.

“Early planning is underway to ensure council delivers on this commitment, including identifying a suitable location for offset receival.”

Unitywater confirmed the delivery of the offsets to the Council as part of previous agreements to go ahead with their Aura pipeline works.

“As part of our approvals for the Aura water pipeline, Unitywater will contribute to offsets that will be delivered by Sunshine Coast Council,” Unitywater said.

“The offset adds to Unitywater’s broader contribution to the environment and the community within its service region.

“The offset is part of the pipeline’s design approvals under the Sunshine Coast Council Biodiversity Waterway and Wetland Overland Code for 1.31 hectares of land.” The Save-Protect-Connect community action group (formerly the Save Ferny Forest group) said the bridge would be an invaluable piece of infrastructure for animals.

“There are seven wildlife bridges across Australia, three of which are in Queensland, and our proposed plan for a wildlife bridge will reconnect Ferny Forest with Brannocks Ecological Reserve and Mooloolah River National Park,” Action group spokesperson Linda Delaboult said.

It is understood the bridge would cost between $1.3 million and $5 million to build.