THE FRIENDS OF TUMBLEBEE
We are a group of residents who have been lobbying the NSW Government to find an alternative site for the massive Tomalpin Industrial Estate, known also as the Hunter Economic Zone (HEZ) which was approved on 21 March 2002 by NSW State Minister for Planning.
The HEZ is in the Cessnock Local Government Area of the Hunter Valley. The 900 hectares in question is a mixture of Private land, Aboriginal, and Crown land.
Mt Tomalpin, or 'Tumblebee' is a familiar landmark in the district and is at the centre of the 3112 hectares of woodlands which make up the Tomalpin Block.
The Friends of Tumblebee believe that the value of the Tomalpin Block lies in the bio-diversity that has already been identified on site. Because of its size, it doesn't suffer from the 'edge effect' and serves as a bio-diversity reservoir for the Lower Hunter region.
The latest studies for HEZ have revealed 2 new Eucalypts and a vulnerable Acacia. The threatened species list has now reached 31 species with another two likely to be added when the two Eucalypts have been described.
Three forest types, Lower Hunter Spotted Gum/ Ironbark; Kurri Sand Swamp Woodland, and Hunter Lowlands Redgum Forest are listed as Endangered Ecological Communities.
In October 2002, the Swift Parrot Recovery Team named Tomalpin as the most significant Spotted gum forest for Swift Parrots on mainland Australia. The Swift Parrot Recovery Plan, to which NSW is a signatory, calls for protection of 'foraging habitat' for this endangered parrot.
Regent Honeyeaters also use these Spotted gum forests as well as Brown Treecreepers and Black-chinned Honeyeaters, two resident birds with a very shaky future in the Hunter if the Industrial Estate goes ahead.
There are alternative industrial sites available but no studies have been undertaken to identify Tomalpin as a good or preferred site. Friends of Tumblebee have written to the Minister asking why four other possible sites in the Lower Hunter Valley have not been investigated for industrial use in the same way that Tomalpin has.
Numerous State Government Agencies have made comment on the proposal and some have been sharply critical.
The RTA has formally opposed the proposal.
It hasn't been demonstrated how waste water from the site can be dealt with. The Kurri Teatment Works has only 4000 EP (Equivalent Persons) capacity available, even after its planned upgrade. Estimations of the waste water that will be produced on the site range from 18000 to 93000 EP.
The Mine Subsidence Board has assessed the area as a "Mine Subsidence District".
The Hunter Catchment Management Trust, DLWC and National Parks have all expressed concern at the validity of the "Environment Protection Zone".
Newcastle City Council have suggested a regional planning framework would have been more appropriate than Cessnock Council only looking at sites in their own area.
The Friends of Tumblebee were shocked and disappointed that the Minister for Planning approved the estate without any demonstrated plan to service the site with either water or roads.
"We want to create jobs and keep the environment, hence we have always lobbied for a smaller estate on already degraded sites."
In April, 2004 the NSW Upper House decided to hold a Standing Committee inquiry into the HEZ rezoning. The Inquiry took place at Kurri Kurri on June 16th 2004 and in Sydney July 2nd 2004. Read the transcripts: 16/6, 2/7.
See Friends of Tumblebee submission to the Inquiry. The inquiry will examine the role of the Premier's Department, which allegedly pressured the National Parks and Wildlife Service into supporting the development.
Friends of Tumblebee
PO BOX 52, KURRI KURRI, NSW, 2327
PH. 02 49375125................................. FAX 02 49308642