Clearing goes to EPA

THE clearing of a privately owned wetland near Eric Singleton bird sanctuary has been referred to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The referral was by a “third party”  according to the EPA, meaning it was likely a concerned citizen and not a government agency or Bayswater council.

The EPA has 28 days to decide whether to formally assess the wetlands development, and if so, at what level. It said now the issue’s on its books, it could make no additional comment.

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Meanwhile Bayswater councillor Chris Cornish has launched a freedom of information request to discover what “environmental assessment or consideration” was done by the WA planning commission prior to approval.

Cr Cornish wants correspondence between WAPC and all environmental bodies which provided relevant information.

He believes the department of parks and wildlife wanted a bigger buffer between the development and the wetlands (as did most Bayswater councillors), but the WAPC instead allowed the owner to pay cash in lieu.

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WAPC chair Eric Lumsden fronted 720 ABC radio this week to explain the approval. He pointed out there’s already a 20m buffer between the proposed development site and the bird sanctuary (which, while officially labelled King William Street, is actually just a footpath) and said there was no objections from other government departments.

One point from Mr Lumsden can’t be argued: Bayswater council had ample time to change the zoning from residential to parkland if it thought the wetlands were important enough, and could have purchased some of the land a few years back. It did neither.

Mr Lumsden said the council’s vote on the sub-division wasn’t unanimous either, and at 6-5 was close enough to have been a factor in the commission’s approval.

Locals opposing the clearing were planning a protest outside planning minister Donna Faragher’s electorate office in Guildford on Friday July 29 at 10am.

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Maylands MP Lisa Baker and Ms Faragher were also due to meet about the issue on Thursday after the Voice’s deadline.

Meanwhile some activists have complained about Bayswater council cracking down on their protest signs.

CEO Francesca Lefante says while technically signs are prohibited without a permit, the council’s approached the issue with kid gloves: “The city’s rangers did remove one sign that was adjacent to a shared path as it was deemed to represent a safety hazard.”

The city is also pursuing the developer over damage to trees on public land that were hacked into because of overhanging branches, saying the chainsaws were used too liberally.

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“A number of trees along the bike path adjacent to the land were pruned without authority from the city,” Ms Lefante reports.

“The city takes vandalism of trees very seriously and has power to take action under the Local Government Act 1995.

Protestors told the Voice they’d already collected nearly 1000 signatures opposing the sub-division.


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