• Shanes Park in western Sydney
    Shanes Park in western Sydney

A portion of bushland at the site of a new western Sydney national park where koalas, bettongs and other native animals will be released is to be set aside for a future highway.

The Berejikilan government announced on the weekend that the bushland at Shanes Park in the Blacktown city council area would become one of the largest national parks in western Sydney.

The proposal includes a “rewilding” project that will involve up to 30 native species being released into the area, which will be fenced to exclude predators.

The NSW environment minister, Matt Kean, said the new park would become a tourist destination that would allow visitors to experience what western Sydney’s bushland was like more than 200 years ago.

However the Guarding reports under the government’s plan, 20 hectares of the site will be reserved for a long-planned road corridor that would connect Sydney’s M7 motorway to the western slopes.

Conservationists from the area who have campaigned for the protection of the entirety of the Shanes Park site for almost two decades told Guardian Australia they had hoped it would all be protected.

“I’m disappointed because the whole site has conservation value and was originally intended to be preserved for that conservation value,” the flora and fauna manager for the Blacktown and district environment group, Wayne Olling, said. “There’s a sleight of hand here and it’s disappointing we can’t trust the government on environmental issues.”

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