THE widening of Captain Cook Drive has run into some strong opposition, with residents and even Sutherland Shire deputy mayor George Capsis angered by the destruction of trees and mangroves caused by the project.
Councillor Capsis has called on the council to halt the work, despite voting in favour of it, and has now questioned whether it should ever have been started after seeing the piles of bulldozed mangroves along Captain Cook Drive.
‘‘I think the community needs an explanation,’’ Cr Capsis said.
‘‘When I voted for this it never occurred to me that we would kill so many mangroves.’’
The fact the destroyed trees border the RAMSAR-listed (world-renowned) wetlands of Towra Point made the destruction even more alarming, he said.
Sutherland Shire Council did not respond by the Leader’s deadline to a request for comment about the upgrade.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Primary Industries, which manages the Towra Point Aquatic Reserve, said that a permit for the works had been issued to Sutherland Shire Council, and that the department had assessed the proposal’s impact on the aquatic reserve and the broader aquatic environment.
‘‘The works are occurring within land that has been zoned for the purpose of road making,’’ the spokeswoman said.
She said that while there had been some ‘‘unavoidable reclamation’’ of mangrove habitat from these public works, the council was required to offset this loss of habitat with new salt marsh and mangrove habitat at Horning Street, Kurnell.
‘‘In all, 18,000 square metres of salt marsh and mangrove habitat will be created at this site,’’ the spokeswoman said.
However, after surveying the works, Cr Capsis said he was now wondering if the road should have been left as it was, adding that with about half the road yet to be widened a better plan needed to be developed.
The council has also been criticised by a local environmental group over the work.
President of the Cronulla Dunes and Wetlands Alliance Annette Hogan said the project was a ‘‘tragedy’’.
‘‘We’ve worked a lot in that area and no one had any notification that this would occur,’’ she said.
‘‘I was shocked to see beautiful healthy mangroves pulled out for a road widening.’’
Documentation included in a report considered by the council on the project in February noted the project would have ‘‘an unavoidable adverse impact’’ on sensitive habitats, including the removal of mangroves.
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