The Tasmanian Greens called on the Environment Minister Brian Wightman MP to take seriously the damage to penguin habitat on the north-west coast caused by rail works between the towns of Penguin and Ulverstone.

In State Parliament today, Greens Member for Braddon Paul O’Halloran MP today produced a letter dated 12 March 2013 from Minister Wightman in which the Minister denied that Tasrail had caused any damage to penguin rookeries.

Mr O’Halloran has called on Minister Wightman to put systems into place to ensure that a similar debacle does not occur in the future and that if Legislation has been breached then those responsible should be prosecuted.

“Residents are concerned that they are finding the bodies of dead penguins along the coastline, and that this may reflect the impact the site disturbance is having on the animals,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“TasRail has already accepted they have caused considerable damage and they have committed to community members, penguin volunteers and the Central Coast Council, to undertake a two year remediation plan.”

“TasRail is talking this matter seriously, but the Minister does not appear to think it’s a problem that hundreds of tonnes of ballast has been dumped on and around sensitive Little Penguin rookeries.”

“This is a very serious matter for those local communities that have put in an enormous amount of work along this stretch of coastline to encourage the return of penguins by planting and tending penguin friendly habitat.”

“People up here love their Little Penguins and the community is rightly outraged that TasRail conducted these works during breeding and moulting season. It’s nothing short of appalling”.