10 September 2019

Congo wants rethink on Council road plans with Greater Gliders in mind

| Ian Campbell
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Mature Greater Glider in the Congo area, May 2019. Photo: Gillianne Tedder.

Mature Greater Glider in the Congo area, May 2019. Photo: Gillianne Tedder.

Congo – Bingi residents have turned out to support a unique local, one they fear will be further endangered by proposed roadworks in their idyllic Eurobodalla village.

Around 25 people turned out for a community meeting on Saturday (July 27) to discuss concerns around plans to seal the last 800 metres of Congo Road, south of Moruya.

“Last time a section of Congo Road was sealed the canopy no longer connected above the road and many big, old, healthy, tall trees were felled as the road was widened,” says Gillianne Tedder, from the Bingi Residents Association.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has plans to reconstruct and seal the remaining unsealed portion of Congo Road this year, providing Congo village with a fully sealed road access for the first time in history.

Prior to Saturday’s meeting, council staff met with representatives of the Bingi Residents Association and Congo residents to address concerns over vegetation clearing associated with the works and impacts on the local Greater Glider population.

Ms Tedder describes the road upgrade as “overkill” and points to the many walkers, cyclists, and animals who use this section of road which cuts through the Eurobodalla National Park and connects to the Bingi Dreaming Track.

She fears that once widened and sealed the speed limit on the 800-metre stretch will increase.

“People just don’t want an 80km/hr speed limit,” Ms Tedder says.

“Who is going to benefit from being able to go faster on this local road?”

“We don’t want people travelling at that speed – it’s a safety issue as well as an environmental threat,” she says.

“[Removing trees] makes it difficult for the gliders to move about to feed and breed – and our gliders are a pretty special case as the Congo Bingi area is one of only two locations in Australia where the Greater Gliders have an endangered status.

“I’ve heard them described as a flying koala – they are quite large, all they eat are gum leaves so they are a bit dopey and slow, and they are endangered – but a real thrill to have living in your backyard.

“Every one of these trees builds on the success of this population. It’s a population that local, state, and federal governments recognise as needing special care and is at risk of extinction.”

Responding to questions from Region Media, Council’s Infrastructure Designer Geoff Armstrong says every effort has been made to maintain the amenity of the area and minimise tree clearing.

“We’ve had the community travel the road corridor with a surveyor to identify clearing limits,” Mr Armstrong says.

“We’ve also undertaken a flora and fauna assessment, which has identified hollow-bearing trees. These will all be retained.”

Ms Tedder says she is grateful for the steps council has taken but says those at Saturday’s meeting are calling for a rethink.

“It’s quite a nice drive and we are happy for it to be sealed as is, without the need for widening,” she says.

“Council has a choice as to what level they upgrade the road to, we’ll be writing to Council and asking them to reconsider their plans.”

Council says once the road is sealed, it will be Transport for NSW (formerly RMS) that will determine the speed limit.

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Julie Armstrong3:36 pm 30 Jul 19

As a Congo resident/ ratepayer of over 30 years I agree that the road should not be widened under any circumstance. I understand some people want a sealed road but let’s leave the road shape and width as is to maintain the tree canopy and to enable the many habitat trees to remain.

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