The NSW Government has bulldozed a section of “critically endangered” remnant bushland as part of its WestConnex toll road project.

WestConnex contractors moved into the 1.8-hectare Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark Forest at Beverly Grove in Sydney’s south-west earlier today to create a vehicle park for the infrastructure project, though were met by protestors who attempted to halt work.

Total Environment Centre executive director Jeff Angel said the government’s actions foreshadowed widespread destruction that could occur under new land clearing laws.

“The government is putting its entire environmental reputation into the shredder,” he said.

The area had previously been set aside to be maintained in perpetuity as part of the original development consent of the M5 motorway.

“Not only should this area in the inner west of Sydney have been preserved from the WestConnex, it was already an offset for the previous M5 roadworks – so much for the security of offsets!

“What has happened today is to be rolled out across the city and country with the Baird government’s new land clearing laws. A dodgy offset policy and no security for offsets, is their recipe for the wrecking of our remaining native vegetation.”

Mr Angel said there would be many more confrontations between protestors and police if the laws continued, and called for an urgent meeting with NSW environment minister Mark Speakman.

“We call on the premier and environment minister to meet with us and change course.”

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