Friday, March 24, 2023

Stripy lizard holds up $2m safety project

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A striped legless lizard “possibly” seen near the Riddoch Highway 17 years ago is holding up a $2million intersection realignment aimed at making it safer for people who use it.

The area has been deemed “a significant environmental site”.

But there appears to be no photos of the lizard to prove its existence at the site.

The issue arose at Naracoorte Lucindale Council’s January 24 meeting in a report headlined Boddington’s West Road.

It said the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) “have identified sightings of a threatened lizard along the Riddoch Highway in 2005 and 2006”.

“Council will need to engage a consultant to determine possible impacts of the road construction.”

Mayor Patrick Ross indicated he wanted more information.

Mr Willsmore said council had received advice from DIT that the area was a “significant environment site” because of a stripy legless lizard.

He explained the history of some reports in 2012 and 2021 and said there appeared to have been a “possible sighting” of the lizard in 2006.

Mr Willsore said the lizard was deemed an “important species” under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, with only three other reports of sightings in SA at Bool and Hacks Lagoons as well as Lake Ormerod.

Mr Willsmore listed all the government departments and agencies council had been liaising with – a few included Landscape SA, DIT and the Glenelg Nature Trust.

“So now we are looking at engaging a consultant from Adelaide who can work with DIT,” Mr Willsmore said.

“It’s frustrating for our staff as it’s a road already constructed.”

Cr Darren Turner questioned the common sense of it all as it was an existing road that was being upgraded.

“If we were building a new road I would see the issue, but it’s an existing road,” Cr Turner said.

Mr Willsmore said Cr Turner was correct, and explained council was also altering the road, so the department viewed it as a new road.

Cr Tom Dennis asked what the “onus of evidence for proof” required to stop a project.

He suggested when someone wanted to stop a project they could just say “I saw a lizard”, and questioned if photographic or other evidence was required?

Mr Willsmore said there were surveys done since 2006 and DIT had a background of information that showed it.

Outside the meeting Mr Ross said he personally inspected Boddington’s West Road to see for himself dangers and issues confronting road users.

“When Boddington’s West Road hits the Riddoch Highway, it is a really steep hill. There is absolutely no way that can be utilised as a bypass,” Mr Ross said.

“Therefore, they will be utilising an unmade council road that will go diagonally, and meet the Riddoch Highway.

“Unfortunately, no contractor has put up their hand for that work and I understand that some prices put in are substantially more than first envisaged.

“In the meantime, something has popped up from the department about a rare and endangered lizard last seen in 2006.

“The CEO Trevor Smart has written to the (Transport) minister and executive officer of DIT for some clarification.”

Naracoorte Community News 1 February 2023

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.


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