The community and local council wanted the development, but believed the 10-11 hectares available on the rest of the site was plenty, that clearing half of the corridor would destroy its function, and that Landcorp should retain the whole linkage.
The WA Planning Commission’s statutory planning committee in November decreed Landcorp must retain about ¾ of the corridor by removing proposed apartment blocks from the west side of the development.
But when Landcorp challenged the decision, the WAPC reconsidered and overrode the decision of its planning committee to approve the subdivision subject to conditions, including a Landscape Management and Rehabilitation Plan “to ensure the protection and management of the site’s environmental aspects”.
This information was provided to the campaigners on request, with the minutes and agenda of the meeting not made public.
“A secret and dreadful process,” said Bush Not Bricks campaigner Heidi Hardisty.
“Shame on Landcorp. Shame on the members of the WAPC. They have made a extremely destructive and short-sighted decision. One that puts today’s profit ahead of the best interests our community and our ever diminishing wildlife. Another nail in the coffin for our wildlife.
“This proves my worst fears. All green space in Perth is up for grabs.
“They have plenty to develop, to do a wonderful infill project, yet they choose to develop the bushland. I cannot see any reason for it, except so developers can make more money.”
She wrote to the WAPC asking for an explanation but has not received one.
The government’s own Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, asked for its recommendation during planning, warned clearing would result in “significant further fragmentation” of the Bush Forever sites to the north and south, “further reducing the area and connectivity of habitat for Carnaby’s cockatoo”.
It questioned the “validity” of clearing a corridor of banksia woodland linking two Bush Forever sites for the purposes of reducing fire risk, and recommended Landcorp explore other options to reduce this risk.
Landcorp has previously said that the development of the plan for the area had incorporated public feedback.
“The design of the Woodland Precinct has undergone a rigorous review, ensuring that this is the most appropriate and balanced use of the land,” a spokesman said.
“Landcorp has committed to rehabilitate all the native vegetation in the retained areas and will reduce the number of weeds and increase the native understory and mid-story species which will provide more habitat for small birds and better protection for ground-dwelling fauna.”
He said the Environmental Protection Authority’s 2015 assessment of the plan for the area found that it was unlikely to have a significant effect on the environment.
Emma Young covers breaking news with a focus on science and environment, health and social justice for WAtoday.