Deploying the full protection of the law – for a native flower

Shaping PolAir’s construction project around the protection of endangered plants.

By Ben Folkard, General Manager Refurbishments & Live Environments

At Taylor, we understand that by designing infrastructure that protects Australia’s biodiversity and endangered species, we amplify our positive impact on the environment. Construction delivery, protecting nature, and ensuring a sustainable future are intrinsically linked.

It’s not often that an entire development is factored around the protection of a single flower. In Taylor’s case, this happened recently, with a small, native, yellow-flowering plant – Hibbertia Fumana.

This species, native to New South Wales, was thought to be extinct in 2012. After being rediscovered in Moorebank in 2016, it made its way onto the critically endangered plant species list. In turn, this unique little plant changed key aspects of the build for a major development at Bankstown Airport for our client PolAir, NSW’s Police Force Aviation Command.

The facility – created to unite all of PolAir’s current resources under one roof – is comprised of a two-storey office building, hangar and maintenance facility.

1 main office entrance at dusk polair facility bankstown taylor construction refurbishment and live environments

Based out of Bankstown Airport, the job had many challenges, including ensuring the continuation of ongoing airport operations throughout delivery and protection of Hibbertia Fumana, which is native to the Bankstown airstrip.

With the species protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, we managed its protection with a threatened species licence, which was issued and monitored by the Office for Environment & Heritage (OEH) and held by Bankstown Airport.

So, we faced an unexpected challenge: plants versus planes. With the required fencing listed in the threatened species license interfering with airport operations, this little plant had the potential to cause project hold ups if not appropriately prioritised. Undeterred – construction should never threaten Australia’s natural biodiversity, solutions had to be found.

23 looking out over hangar bars from balcony at sunset at polair facility bankstown taylor construction refurbishment and live environments

A plan was devised – one that drew on the expertise of local ecologists, as well as transparent and regular communication with all project stakeholders. Ecologists completed daily inspections to monitor compliance with license conditions, airport staff were kept up to date with project changes, site workers were thoroughly educated on the endangered species and relevant protocols, and non-invasive fencing was installed.

Working around this flower was a critical part of our job and the sustainable project outcome we handed over to PolAir and Bankstown Airport. It was absolutely non-negotiable – just as it should be. Because of our careful management at Bankstown Airport, we were able to ensure we left the place we entered in better shape, without damaging anything that existed before our visit.

Protecting biodiversity in construction is a privilege – no matter the flora or fauna, it’s our job to ensure that our work complements the environment rather than threatening it. As biodiversity standards rise, we turn our focus to the identification of ecologically sustainable initiatives across the organisation.

In the end, the PolAir project achieved a Five-Star NABERS rating and Four Star Green Star Rating. It is the first of the Master Development Plan for the Bankstown Airport with other major developments to be completed over the next five to 10 years – notably, with tiny, yellow native flowers still in bloom.

As champions of environmental protections, Taylor will continue to provide expertise and advice in the conservation of endangered species, ecologically fragile environments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage sites. We know that, for a shared sustainable future, Biodiversity Matters.

Ben Folkard is a respected industry leader, responsible for Taylor’s Refurbishment and Live Environments division. Over the past 15 years, Ben has successfully delivered a host of complex projects in live environments – ranging from zoos and equine environments to airports, schools, correctional centres, health and aged care facilities, and sports precincts.

16 polair glazing signage at entrance to office space at polair facility bankstown taylor construction refurbishment and live environments