PLANS for an open range zoo in Lower Chittering have been shelved by the State Government a month ahead of the original construction start date.
Moondyne Country Convention Centre owner Peter Nott, who shares the land where Western Australia’s first Open Range Zoo was proposed, said he was “devastated” by the news.
He said it was a blow to tourism for the whole of WA.
“Its mind boggling that the Government doesn’t want to go ahead with this. The work has been done and the project was ready to start,” he said.
“It’s a five-year build and the Government already owns the land; whatever money was spent on it, it would pay for itself many times over.”
Former Premier Colin Barnett announced last November that the 700ha open range zoo would go ahead at the site next to the Avon Valley National Park, which was vested with the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
However, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson announced this week that plans for the zoo would not go ahead.
He said the plans were not part of Labor’s election commitment, but did not rule out future plans.
“The development of an open range zoo was not an election commitment by the McGowan Labor Government,” he said.
“In the event that an open range zoo does not go ahead, Perth Zoo will continue to play an important role in regional and international breeding programs.”
Mr Nott said he had plans to build a $14 million accommodation investment on the land he leases, which would be promoted to the Asian market.
He said losing the open range zoo would mean that could not go ahead.
He said the zoo would have boosted tourism and employment in the area and provided a place for a breeding program for endangered species.
“This area is beautiful and needs to be promoted as a tourism destination,” he said.
“Tourism doesn’t end at the Swan Valley, there is so much this region has to offer and this would have brought people out here.”
City of Swan Mayor Mick Wainwright said it was unfortunate the project would no longer go ahead, but respected the State Government’s decision.
“Had the open range zoo gone ahead, it could have potentially increase tourism prospects and employment, improved infrastructure and boosted the local economy,” he said.