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Response to Submissions

Shenhua Watermark RTS

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Q. What is the current ecological condition of the Shenhua Watermark Project area ?
A. Land within the Project Boundary is dominated by low diversity grassland derived from previous
clearing of woodland to accommodate agricultural pursuits. Remnant and regrowth open forest
and woodland occur as fragmented, narrow tracts along boundary fences and road verges and
in isolated patches on hills, steep slopes and in paddocks within the Project Boundary.

Q. Are there many threatened species in the Project Area ?
A. The Project Boundary supports mostly highly mobile species, including nine threatened bird
species and one threatened bat species. Koalas have also been consistently detected across
the Project Boundary and Breeza State Forest in all eucalypt dominated woodland.

Q. How much vegetation will be removed over the life of the Shenhua Watermark Project ?
A. A total of 738 hectares of Box Gum Woodland and Derived Native Grassland (Critical
Endangered Ecological Communities) will be removed progressively over the life of the
Project, and 51 hectares of other listed vegetation communities and flora species
(Endangered Ecological Communities).

Q. How will biodiversity on site be managed ?
A. A range of management plans will be prepared to guide all facets of biodiversity management
and mitigation for the Project. These will each include key performance indicators and
measures to prevent adverse impacts to flora and fauna.

Q. Were the ecology surveys undertaken within the Project Boundary and biodiversity offsets areas adequate?
A. The extent of the surveys was specific to the land impacted by the Project (including biodiversity offset areas). The surveys were undertaken in accordance with relevant guidelines and supplemented by existing site specific and locality data and literature. In this regard, the survey effort was suitable to characterise site specific biodiversity for the Project. 
 
Q. What are the results of the revision of mapping of vegetation communities within the biodiversity offset areas?
A. Revisions to the Onsite Biodiversity Offset Area has resulted in revised mapping of vegetation communities and subsequently an overall review of the Biodiversity Offset Strategy. Additional flora surveys across the Offsite Biodiversity Offset Area also resulted in revisions to the associated vegetation mapping, which has allowed communities to be more accurately categorised and delineated
 
Q. What are the potential indirect impacts, such as light, noise and dust, on biodiversity within and surrounding the Project Boundary?
A. The Project has the potential to indirectly impact on threatened communities and species relevant within and surrounding the Project Boundary. As such, Shenhua Watermark will employ the appropriate mitigation and management measures to minimise onsite and offsite impacts on biodiversity values in conjunction with onsite buffer lands and securing offsets to provide a substantial area of compensatory habitat.
 
Q. What are the potential impacts on Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) if they are present? 
A. 269 ha of woodland tree species considered to be opportunistic users of Groundwater, and their ecosystems are not wholly dependent on groundwater, will remain in the Project Boundary and may potentially be affected by a reduction in the groundwater table. However, such indirect impacts are predicted to be transitory. Groundwater levels are predicted to recover to normal levels following cessation of operations in each mining area. As these opportunistic GDE species are known to also rely solely on rainfall elsewhere in the Project Boundary, the Project is not expected to result in a significant impact to any opportunistic GDEs as they are likely to be able to survive on rainfall alone if required to do so.
 
Q. What are the potential cumulative impacts associated with the Project on biodiversity values?
A. Existing land uses, such as agriculture, have extensively cleared woodland in the locality. The Project will contribute to the removal of additional vegetation; however, avoidance, mitigation and compensatory measures have been developed to account for the impacts on biodiversity values.
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