An owlet at Arkarra, but he’s not there any more.
An owlet at Arkarra, but he’s not there any more. ALAN PEEBLES

Save lagoons for young generations

LOCAL wildlife warrior Alan Peebles is concerned over the future of the rundown Arkarra Tea Gardens and the adjacent council-owned lagoons.

From tomorrow, council will consider whether to give the go-ahead for a housing development at the gardens, which proposes to turn the existing single allotment into three lots.

“I have been photographing wildlife at Arkarra Lagoons for 13 years,” Mr Pebbles said yesterday.

“With development coming closer and closer there birdlife is seriously disappearing.

“With houses come dogs and cats and noise.”

The council CEO Andrew Brien has automatic delegated authority to accept or reject the development application that council received in September.

No councillors will be able to vote on the development application although Cr Sue Brooks has placed a question on notice asking how a development would impact on the wetland’s wildlife.

Mr Peebles, who is the artist behind the bird paintings on council’s bus shelter sheds across the region, said he was horrified at the prospect of a housing development going into the garden next to the lagoon.

“Thirteen years ago the birdlife at Arkarra was outstanding. I chose it as the destination for the first outing of the Hervey Bay Birdwatchers.

“Sadly since those days numbers and types of birds have markedly decreased.

“This can be attributed to the encroachment of existing houses and doesn’t need to be added to by further development.”

Mr Peebles said photos he took at the lagoons showed two dogs in “free rein”.

“They were going to town chasing off swans and their young, together with various other water birds. It made me wonder what human-related predators could be around at night.

“If the council allows the tea gardens development proposal to go ahead it would mean the clearing of a large amount of semi-rainforest and trees that have taken a lifetime to grow.

“A scarce bird, an owlet nightjar, which had previously only been sighted once before in 13 years was recently recorded in a hollow log in the back of this vegetated area.

“Past regularly sighted birds such as the nankeen night heron and brahminy kites have been driven away to a quieter habitat.

“I don’t want to be knocking the council all the time. They are to be commended for purchasing and retaining the lagoons as an oasis for future generations. But they also need to see that destroying the tea gardens would be white-anting their original purchase.

“Hervey Bay is badly in need of tourist attractions. Why can’t the council use the environment levy collected from our rates to buy the property?”

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