BAYSWATER residents fronted Parliament House today and led more than 100 demonstrators calling for better protection of Perth’s wetlands.
The Carter’s subdivision drew public outcry when bulldozers began works in July, after the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) approved the proposal despite a Bayswater City council refusal recommendation.
Residents were joined by people from across Perth at the steps of Parliament and chanted “shame” and “no houses in wetlands”.
No Houses in Wetlands member Deborah Bowie said the clearing of the Bayswater wetlands, which included 60 bulldozed trees 30m from the pristine Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, was “death by a thousand cuts”.
“On July 12 the City of Bayswater’s sense of place was struck a cruel blow,” she said.
“The environmental devastation in Bayswater’s backyard is now on show for thousands.”
Ms Bowie said the group collected 3300 signatures calling on the State Government to strengthen its environmental policies.
“None of our planning policies and environmental policies adequately protects our urban wetlands,” she said.
Planning Minister Donna Faragher fronted the protest and said she was aware of residents’ concerns surrounding the development.
She said the area had been zoned urban for a number of years and the City of Bayswater had “ample opportunity to rezone and chose not to”.
Ms Faragher said there were claims proper process was not followed by the WAPC which was “not correct”.
She said the City of Bayswater was now actively seeking to buy the land – despite two previous opportunities to buy – which she supported.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob also spoke at the rally but people yelling mostly drowned out his comments.
Murdoch University environmental scientist Jane Chalmers said 80 per cent of wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain had already been lost.
“We need to increase density of housing but don’t need to destroy quality of life and don’t need to destroy wetlands,” she said.
“Wetlands cannot exist in isolation, they are a web of life.”
Phil Jennings said wetlands buffer guidelines were inadequate and updated guidelines had been developed by the State Government in 2005 but never implemented,
“That would have stopped what’s happening in the wetlands,” he said.