Development Plans

The site of the Kogarah Golf Course and the parklands south of it up to Bestic Street are Cooks Cove. The parklands in the south are called the Southern Precinct. There are plans to develop the site of the Kogarah Golf Club and build apartments there. The Kogarah Golf Club would move to the Southern Precinct and take up almost all of it. Turning public lands into a golf course would be outrageous for a number of reasons and I have created a separate site, Save Cooks Cove South, to cover Cooks Cove development and the golf course relocation. But this section focuses on the implications for the GGBF.

Cooks Cove is not a suburb but consists of parts of the suburbs Arncliffe, Banksia and Kyeemagh. The developer refers to Cooks Cove as "Cook Cove".

The developer has made a development application, DA-2017/179, to Bayside Council for building the golf course in Cooks Cove South. There is so far no development application for development of the current golf course site but the developer has made an indicative proposal for it.

DA-2017/179 has two documents, "Appendix G - Green & Golden Bell Frog Management Plan Part 1 - Cook Cove Southern Precinct" and "Appendix G - Green & Golden Bell Frog Management Plan Part 2 - Cook Cove Southern Precinct" which describe how a habitat is to be established for the Green and Golden Bell Frog in Cooks Cove South. That has to be good thing, right? Well, it's not so simple.

Firstly, the GGBF has recently (after the developer submitted the DA) been observed in the area where the golf course is to be built. This is recorded in the Bionet Atlas of NSW Wildlife. I also have an email from Bayside Council which states:

Council is aware of these recent sightings and has met on site with a representative from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and a wildlife ecologist to discuss these recent findings.

I hope that the developer will have to work around this, so as to not to destroy any critical habitat.

Below is a quote from the second GGBF document in the DA. The Marsh Street breeding ponds referred to are the ones to be created in the habitat extension by the RMS:

Note that no translocation of Green and Golden Bell frogs into these additional breeding and foraging ponds will occur. The successful utilisation of these ponds is dependent on the persistence of the Green and Golden Bell Frog population in the RTA ponds and the successful establishment of these frogs in the Marsh Street breeding ponds. As the management of the RTA ponds and the Marsh Street breeding ponds is out of the control of Cook Cove Inlet, the successful utilisation of these ponds is also to some extent beyond the ability of Cook Cove Inlet to control.

While elsewhere the document suggests that a translocation may take place, it is fair enough that the developer is not promising it. You can't just pick a whole bunch of endangered animals up from an established habitat and put them somewhere else. Approval is required which potentially may not be given. Basically, the RMS habitat extension is a critical stepping stone so that the frogs can populate the Cooks Cove South habitat extension by themselves. However, even if the RMS habitat extension goes ahead and is successful, there is no guarantee that the frogs will populate the Cooks Cove South habitat extension.

Of course, the development of the current golf course site will place the GGBF under additional pressure.

There is something rather curious in the second GGBF DA document in the section on Frog-proof Fencing. We have these quotes:

"This frog-proof fencing will initially be constructed 12 m from the RTA ponds but will require shifting to within 5 metres of the RTA ponds as construction proceeds. This will effectively confine the frog population of the site to a band around the ponds."

and

"Once construction in each area has been completed, the frog-proof fencing around the RTA ponds and the Eve/Marsh Street wetlands respectively will then be removed to allow the frogs to forage over much of the site and have access to the new breeding areas."

That suggests to me that final development will come quite close to the ponds, even if it's not to within 5 metres. And the fences will then go which will expose the frogs to dogs and cats and possibly cars. But the curious part is that an aspect of the development of the current golf course site found its way into the development application for Cooks Cove South. Is this an attempt to sneak something through? Or is it just a mistake? I don't know.

In a sense, the GGBF plans are compensation for impacts on the GGBF that will be revealed in more detail in a future DA. It is also worth remembering that the land around the RTA ponds is actually government owned (Bayside Council and NSW government). See Save Cooks Cove South, section on Ownership and Tenure. So if development were to take place there (and I am not expressing approval for such development), the sale of that land should bring in a huge amount of money of which some can be used to establish a Cooks Cove South habitat extension without the developer's help and without giving away almost all of Cooks Cove South.

In summary, the GGBF plans for Cooks Cove South in the development application are not grounds for objection. But when looked at in context and taking into accounts all the things that have to go right for this to work, the potential appears to be there for the frogs to fail to establish themselves in the new habitat extensions and for the existing habitat to become not viable. The result would be extinction of the GGBF in Arncliffe.