The discovery of a shrub thought to be dead for almost 200 years could challenge logistics group Qube’s massive Moorebank intermodal development, with the NSW Land and Environment Court looking into the issue this week.
The Court began a three-day hearing on Wednesday, after action was brought by the Residents Against Intermodal Development Moorebank (RAID), supported by the NSW Environmental Defenders Office.
Qube’s lawyers attempted to block RAID’s action via a motion to dismiss, but this was rejected at the NSW Supreme Court on October 9, clearing the way for the hearing this week.
RAID’s case is based around the discovery of Hibbertia fumana at the Moorebank site during surveys late last year.
Hibbertia fumana is described as a low-lying shrub, and is listed as a critically endangered species. Originally discovered in 1802 near South Head, and in Western Sydney, the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage says the Moorebank population of hibbertia fumana is now the only known extant population, saying the plant is “currently only known from a single population at Moorebank but potentially elsewhere in greater Sydney”.
If the Land Court agrees the Moorebank development could negatively impact plants’ chances at survival, Qube could be hit with far more stringent environmental policies for its $1.9 billion freight hub.
The development already received approval from the state Planning Assessment Commission, but RAID is arguing via its appeal that the PAC was not fully aware of the shrub’s rediscovery when it handed down its original decision.
The Land Court has the power to either cancel the approval, or alter its conditions.