The Federal Court has ordered the developer of a planned housing estate in threatened woodland on the NSW South Coast to stop work until independent ecologists can inspect the area for endangered wildlife.
The SMH reports that the Environmental Defenders Office sought the halt to enable a team overseen by David Lindenmayer from the Australian National University to inspect the site near Manyana for greater gliders over three nights and days.
The court made the orders allowing the inspection to proceed after developers Ozy Homes agreed to the assessment.
It had been planning to put fencing up through part of an endangered ecological community, Jorj Lowrey said, a spokeswoman for Manyana Matters – a local group opposed to the development of the 20-hectare site.
"The last thing we want was any more damage," Ms Lowrey said, adding that the detection of gliders would make "a real case for [Federal Environment Minister] Sussan Ley to intervene".
A spokesman for Minister Ley said, "the department has been liaising with the proponent to determine if there are [Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act] matters requiring referral and assessment".
"The proponent has been conducting wildlife surveys and preparing reports which will assist in this process," he said, adding the "department has also reminded the proponent of its obligation to seek EPBC approval for any likely significant impact on Matters of National Environmental Significance".
The works delay lasts until at least June 5 when the Federal Court is next scheduled to hear the matter gives all sides time to resolve the dispute. Protesters, in particular, have been keen to halt further destruction of woodland in a region hard-hit by last summer's bushfires.
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