The government plans to remove at least 520 trees including threatened woodland as part of works to widen sections of the Midland Highway north of Campbell Town for median barriers, more U-turn areas and an overtaking lane.
Plans were submitted last week for a referral under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, required due to the expected impact on Tasmanian devil dens in the area.
The works cover 11.5 kilometres between Conara and Epping Forest due to begin in summer next year, and then another portion between Campbell Town and Conara to begin 12 months later.
The plans submitted to the federal Environment Department show the removal of 20.89 hectares of native vegetation including 520 trees with trunk diameter of at least 60 centimetres, of which 145 have diameter of over a metre.
The total also includes the removal of 11.8 hectares of black peppermint eucalyptus inland forest which is listed as a threatened native vegetation community.
In response to concerns raised the during community consultation phase about the scale of vegetation removal, the Department of State Growth stated that "in some cases, it may be unavoidable, or necessary for safety".
The EPBC referral documents stated that vegetation removal had been "minimised as much as practicable through design refinement", with a view that it was not causing further fragmentation of the landscape.
"As a result, species occupancy will be reduced. However, habitat connectivity throughout large tracts of adjoining woodland will be maintained," the documents read.
"As the sub-species utilises a mosaic of woodland habitats within the Northern Midlands, and as the habitat removal is not fragmenting a large woodland area, rather removing the habitat from the edges of existing large fragments ... it is not expected that sub-species numbers will decline as a result of the project."
The works involve a largely continuous run of "flexible" barriers on the median and outer parts of the highway between Campbell Town and Epping Forest, a new north-bound overtaking lane north of Cleveland, widened sealed soldiers and increasing the amount of the highway that has a "2+1" overtaking lane arrangement.
A turning area will also be established at Glen Esk Road.
The highway between Conara and Epping Forest has seen 32 crashes between 2009 and 2019, mostly while vehicles are attempting to turn.
The documents include a view that native animals would have a greater distance to cross due to the highway being wider, but that traffic volumes would not be increasing and so it was "assumed" there would be "no potential increase" in road kill.
Some "minor" land acquisition has been negotiated, and TasNetworks power poles will need to be moved.
The plans are open for public comment on the federal Environment Department website.
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