Cumberland Plain Woodland
The construction of Western Sydney Airport involves the destruction of 359 hectares of Cumberland Plain Woodland. This woodland is a nationally-listed threatened ecological community and it's being lost due to clearing and development pressure and now is just reduced to small remnants. The government has approved biodiversity offsets for this woodland as part of the approvals process but we now know that the proposal is to use native vegetation at the Defence establishment in Orchard Hills as an offset for the destruction of woodland at the airport site. But guess what? The native vegetation at Orchard Hills is already conserved and is being remediated under Australian government biodiversity protection legislation. The Minister for the Environment needs to explain how offsets that result in no net conservation gain, because no new areas of Cumberland Plain Woodland will be conserved, are acceptable.
Transferring money, and it's believed to be around $70 million, between two federal government departments will do nothing to save Cumberland Plain Woodland from eventual extinction. Some of the payment is going to be used for non-conservation-related activities such as repairing bridges and fixing security fencing. Funds will also be used to remediate contaminated land, which the Department of Defence is already legally liable for. At the end of the day, it could all get sold off for housing. This is not good enough. If it has to be biodiversity banking, it has to be genuine.