The Tasmanian Greens today raised concerns about widespread damage to penguin nesting habitat on the north-west coast resulting from earthworks along the railway corridor between Penguin and Ulverstone.

Greens Member for Braddon Paul O’Halloran MP said locals were upset to discover that that hundreds of tonnes of ballast gravel had been dumped on top of sensitive penguin habitat along the coastline.

“This is a shocking blunder by TasRail which has seriously damaged a large amount of penguin habitat along the coastline between Ulverstone and Penguin,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“The damage to penguin nesting habitat is extensive, and I am at a total loss to understand why TasRail allowed this work to go ahead.”

“To their credit, TasRail is taking the problem seriously and has been working with my office, the Central Coast Council and community representatives on a plan to remediate the damage.”

“However there are serious questions about the level of consultation that was undertaken with local authorities and penguin experts before they gave the project the go ahead.”

“Local authorities and volunteers have put in an enormous amount of work right along this stretch of coastline to encourage the return of penguins by planting and tending penguin friendly habitat.”

“The Department of Primary Industries has guidelines in place to ensure that any works that could affect penguin habitat are carried out with minimum impact and at the right time of year.”

“It’s right around this time of year that penguins stop feeding and return to their burrows to moult, during which time they are extremely vulnerable to disturbance.”
“The remediation of the affected areas is the first priority, and beyond that it will be vital to put in place strong measures to ensure that this does not happen again.”