THE WestConnex Delivery Authority says the breeding ponds of endangered green and golden bell frogs won’t be disturbed when Kogarah Golf Course becomes a construction site for the WestConnex motorway.
A spokeswoman said that specialist studies were being done to guide other measures to protect the ‘‘vulnerable’’ frog population.
The authority was responding to an appeal by the West-CON-ex Action Group for the community to protest urgently about ‘‘secret plans’’ threatening one of the last remaining habitats for the frogs in Sydney.
The action group said almost 900 submissions to stop destruction of the frog habitat were sent to federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt in the 48 hours before the deadline.
A spokeswoman for the group, Kathryn Calman, said Roads and Maritime Services had tried to keep its referral of the project to the federal Department of the Environment secret.
‘‘We only learned the referral of it because a member of Wolli Creek Preservation Society contacted us in distress,’’ she said.
‘‘This was the first we’d heard of it, even though WestConnex held a community information session for the new M5 in Kingsgrove just a week earlier.’’
The group made a last-minute appeal for people to email Mr Hunt before the deadline for feedback at 5pm on Friday, July 31.
Ms Calman said the project would also lead to the destruction of more than 75 hectares of vegetation, including endangered turpentine ironbark forest and the critically endangered Cooks River Castlereagh ironbark forest.
She said ‘‘a ridiculously short 10-day submission period’’ had been set despite the road authority planning the project over many months.
A WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA) spokeswoman said the nearby green and golden bell frog population had been a key consideration in the design and configuration of the new M5 midway tunnelling point construction site.
‘‘The configuration of the midway tunnelling point construction site will ensure the breeding ponds are undisturbed,’’ she said.
‘‘As is standard practice, WDA made a referral to the federal Department of Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, because this frog population is vulnerable, and a Commonwealth approval may be required in addition to the state approval process.
‘‘We are carrying out specialist studies as part of the environmental assessment.
‘‘WDA’s ecological management procedures will be set out in detail in the environmental impact statement due to go on public display later this year.’’
Two breeding ponds for the green and golden bell frogs on the golf course near Marsh Street were created when the M5 East motorway was constructed.
An expert told the Leader the frogs would not just live in the ponds, but would venture out onto the golf course foraging for food.
Major disruption to the golf course had the potential to harm the frog colony, but the extent of the impact would depend on what steps were taken to protect them, he said.