Clamp the glamping

ROTTNEST SOCIETY convenor ERIC MOXHAM says the island’s ruling authority is paying the price for ignoring the society’s warnings about “glamping”. The society is a voluntary organisation established in 1984 to ensure the protection of the natural values of Rottnest Island.

THE Rottnest Society is very concerned that the development of The Pinky’s Beach Eco Retreat (Discovery Rottnest Island), which includes 83 glamping tents and associated facilities, will destroy the Pinky’s Beach dunes.

Even before the resort was opened a large portion of the primary dune in front of the development was damaged by the developers, who should have followed the rules more closely.

While the developers subsequently attempted to artificially replace and stabilise this dune, there are signs that such a large development will not operate without continual erosion of the fragile surroundings.

The development lies relatively unprotected from the prevailing direction of winter storms and will accordingly be subject to sand inundation and wave erosion.

• A mild winter storm caused Pinky’s access ways to be closed off.

Protection offered from a five metre wide foredune will be insufficient. Anyone with a knowledge of coastal erosion in Western Australia will tell you that developing on a north-west facing foredune has dire consequences.

The Society made its views known to the chairman of the Rottnest Island Authority and asked a number of questions of him in February this year. The answers, when they arrived in April, did not allay the Society’s concerns.

The Society believes that the rush to provide additional high-end accommodation and related facilities on the island is occurring without sufficient attention to the impact on the environment and natural values of Rottnest.

We couldn’t find reference to the RIA, in granting approval to the development, seeking advice from qualified independent environmental or coastal engineering consultants.

Clearly insufficient consideration was given to the understanding of coastal processes and the attendant risks.

The RIA appears to be a law unto itself. Anywhere else on the state’s dunal coast, such a development would have been prohibited as it would be contrary to the state’s planning policies.

Confirmation of the Society’s concerns came two weeks ago, when a relatively mild winter storm caused wave and wind erosion to undercut the access ways to Pinky’s beach from the development.

This resulted in the access-ways being closed.

The development works, the inadequate revegetation of the foredune, and the greater pressure placed on the natural vegetation from the additional people have resulted in a serious environmental problem.

This has occurred within four months of the Discovery Rottnest Island development. It will only get worse due to the fundamental failure to understand the vulnerability of the site to coastal erosion.

This disastrous development decision should be subject to a parliamentary inquiry.

We need an open investigation into how such a poor decision, with obvious ramifications for the sustainable environment of Rottnest and public liability and long-term engineering works, was made.

Is selling Rottnest to high-end tourism worth these costs?

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