A NEW species of “flasher” frog has barely been discovered before it faces an “extinction risk” because of a 2019 deadline for the new Sydney to Newcastle Intercity trains.
University of Newcastle’s Dr Simon Clulow, who discovered the tiny Mahoney’s toadlet in 2016, has warned Transport for NSW that its controversial proposed Kangy Angy rail infrastructure maintenance facility could increase the extinction risk of one of only two Mahoney’s toadlet populations on the Central Coast.
The only other populations are in the sand beds of Myall Lakes and Port Stephens.
In a report last week Dr Clulow said a special species impact statement prepared by Transport for NSW after the toadlet was identified on the Kangy Angy site lacked detail in parts, appeared to rely on old surveys in some sections, and seemed to reach conclusions about the number of toadlets based on a misunderstanding of their activities.
Dr Clulow disputed conclusions about how many populations of the toadlet might exist and how well they were protected.
“The only thing we know for sure is that only two populations have been located on the Central Coast despite surveys in more areas than just these,” Dr Clulow said.
“This suggests that within its distribution, the frog does not occur at a great number of locations necessarily, making the existing populations much more significant. I believe that it is possible that the proposed development could significantly impact the species by increasing the extinction risk of one of only two populations known from the Central Coast.”
Transport for NSW has been under sustained criticism since it selected the flood-prone Kangy Angy site for an Intercity rail maintenance facility, despite Kangy Angy failing to appear on an initial list of possible sites because of constraints.
Wyong Shire Council in 2015 threatened “political level” opposition to the maintenance facility on a council-owned site in the north of the shire, and controversially directed the NSW Government to Kangy Angy where it owned a parcel of land. The council subsequently sold the land to the government.
On its website Transport for NSW says the rail facility to hold four trains up to 205 metres long will be built at Kangy Angy “subject to planning approval”. The facility must be completed in time for the first roll-out of the Intercity trains between Sydney and Newcastle in 2019.
Kangy Angy Residents Action Group speaker Neil Bolte described the assessment and approval process as a “farce”. Transport for NSW is assessing the species impact report before a final decision.