In the planning process environment always comes last, and it shouldn't come last.
That was the view of Hastings Birdwatchers' Sue Proust when she addressed the Northern Regional Planning Panel on Wednesday.
The panel was considering Stage 2B of Charles Sturt University's development on Ellis Parade which will, once complete, house teaching areas and administration.
The development is listed as being valued at $17,888,000. It is considered regionally significant.
Ms Proust raised her concerns about loss of habitat - a strip of trees neighbouring the proposed development - for the Swift Parrot.
She says around 2.5 per cent of the global population of the Swift Parrot has been recorded in the area.
"These birds are site-specific and are down to about 2000 individuals (world-wide)," she told the panel.
"They are critically endangered birds and there should have been records of Swift Parrot populations.
"The net loss of native vegetation is a death by a thousand cuts.
"We are losing biodiversity by degrees.
"The loss of important hollow-bearing trees is also significant in this area."
The net loss of native vegetation is a death by a thousand cuts.Sue Proust
There were a number of Forest Red Gum trees in the area which currently provide for the Swift Parrot.
Ms Proust said the bird species migrates to the area and could have been missed in any Environmental Impact Statement or Assessment reports undertaken.
"Our preference is for all existing native trees to be maintained and supplemented," she said.
Panel chair Garry West said the offset for trees had already commenced during previous developments by CSU at the site.
He said vegetation issues along the northern boundary were covered in the 2A development consent.
"We can't walk back on previous stages," he said.
The second major issue the panel discussed was traffic movements and car parking.
The development will feature 88 additional car parking spaces bringing the total to 511.
Panel member Robert Hussey called for the inclusion of a turning bay at the site to address traffic movement concerns.
The panel decided its best course of action was to draw attention to their concerns about the traffic issue as part of its decision.
We can't walk back on previous stages.Garry West
CSU has indicated it will implement a green travel plan which encourages car pooling, cycling and other traffic movement types to and from the campus.
CSU's executive director of facilities management Stephen Butt said the university is pleased to be granted the DA approval.
"It is a very critical component of us delivering Stage 2B ready for our 2021 student intake," he said.
"We can now continue to Stage 2A development continuously and effectively complete both stages in line with our program. It is a significant milestone for us.
"We are very confident we have met all planning requirements and certainly note some comments made during this time. We will continue to work with community and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to meet any needs that arise."
Mr Butt said the conditions of the DA had been endorsed and approved.
He said CSU is comfortable it is a good citizen and responding to the needs of the campus.
The state government is providing $15.08 million towards stage 2B with CSU contributing another $4 million.
Stage 2B will deliver more teaching spaces and an innovation hub.
CSU announced the campus expansion in October 2018 with Lahey Constructions awarded the stage two expansion construction contract.
The first stage of the campus off Major Innes Road has been open since 2016.
The stage two expansion will also provide more car parking.
CSU executive director of facilities management Stephen Butt said they were really confident the on-site work was on program.
Stage 2B is expected to be ready in early 2021.
The development was passed unanimously by the panel.
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