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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 146

Senator Nettle asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 3 September 2004:

With reference to the work on Middle Head Road to Balmoral Walking Track undertaken by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust:

(1) On what basis was the decision made to commence work on the road before an upgrade of the existing track from Chowder Bay to Middle Head Road was undertaken.

(2) (a) What form of assessment has been undertaken regarding the potential increased risk of fire resulting from the construction of the walking track; and (b) can a copy of the assessment be provided.

(3) (a) What is the proposed timeline for the completion of the Middle Head Road to Balmoral Walking Track; and (b) when will the track be completed.

(4) What is the cost of this section of the track.

(5) What precautions are being taken during the building of the track to prevent further spread of phytophthora.

(6) (a) What measures will be in place once the track is completed to prevent the further spread of phytophthora; (b) at what stage can these measures be reviewed; and (c) what will the review process involve.

Senator Ian Campbell (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The walking track has been designed and constructed as a raised boardwalk and concrete sections to prevent walkers coming in contact with soil. This best practice design, as recommended by Dr Brett Summerall from the Royal Botanic Gardens, removes the need to upgrade any other walking tracks in the local area.

(2) (a) The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (the Trust) engaged fire consultants Conacher Travers to assess the impact of the walking track and potential increased fire hazard. (b) Yes. A copy is attached.

(3) (a) and (b) The portion of track on Commonwealth land is due for completion by the end of December 2004. The portion of track on land managed by Mosman Council is subject to approval of a Development Application with construction time anticipated to be 2 months after development approval.

(4) The portion of the track on Commonwealth land is contracted to cost $420,631.00 ex GST: The portion on council managed crown land is tendered at $63,950.00 ex GST.

(5) The walking track is being constructed in accordance with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) prepared by the contractor and reviewed and amended by the Department of the Environment and Heritage and the Trust. The EMP includes strict hygiene protocols developed in response to the threat of phytophthora.

(6) (a) The management of the track from the threat of Phytophthora will include the following:

Use of integrated boot cleaning stations at entry points to the track.

Prevention of walkers from leaving the track via handrails and landscaping.

Ongoing testing of soils along the track route.

Design of the track to prevent walkers coming into contact with soil.

Phytophthora education program developed by the Trust.

Active management of infection with a tree injection program.

(b) The operation management plan will be available for review and comment prior to the opening of the track.

(c) The operation management plan will be developed in consultation with the Department of the Environment and Heritage. The Trust will seek an independent review from Dr David Guest, Professor of Horticulture at the University of Sydney.