Coal terminal may destroy bird habitat

INTERNATIONALLY recognised bird habitats will be destroyed if Newcastle’s fourth coal terminal goes ahead, opponents of the proposal have said.

The Newcastle Coal Terminal Action Group, which is made up of 14 of Newcastle’s community groups, held a site tour yesterday of Hunter Estuary Wetlands for about 50 people at Ash Island, Hexham.

Steve Phillips from the action group said it wanted to demonstrate what habitats would be lost if the terminal went ahead.

Mr Phillips said the wetlands would be reclaimed for stockpiles and rail lines.

The group is particularly concerned Deep and Swamp ponds would be destroyed.

‘‘A lot of people in Newcastle do not realise right on our doorstep is the only internationally recognised migratory bird habitat in NSW,’’ Mr Phillips said. ‘‘It could be the final nail in the coffin for migratory birds.’’

Tour guide Ann Lindsey from the Hunter Bird Observers’ Club said birds used the area to accumulate fat for long-distance flights to breeding grounds.

An environmental assessment of the proposal noted it would likely affect 23 threatened animal habitats.

‘‘The T4 project has been designed to avoid or minimise ecological impacts as much as possible,’’ it stated.

‘‘[It] is not expected to adversely impact the adjacent Hunter Wetlands National Park or Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site.’’

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