City of Wanneroo granted clearing permit for Butler playing fields

The Halesworth Park site.
The Halesworth Park site.

THE City of Wanneroo has received a permit to clear 8.8ha of banksia woodlands in Butler and Alkimos so it can build the $22 million Halesworth Park playing fields.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has approved the clearing permit for the Butler north district open space site, which contains Carnaby’s black cockatoo foraging habitat.

Permit documents said developers Northern Corridor Developments and Satterley Property Group had provided funds for environmental offsets through prior approvals, but 4.7ha of the site had not been offset.

As a result, the City would allocate 28.85ha of a banked offset site in Bindoon that had similar environmental values to the Butler project.

“The proposed development involves the clearing of 8.801ha of native vegetation for the construction of playing fields and sporting facilities,” the permit said.

“The proposed development will activate this area by creating playing fields, netball courts, a sports pavilion and associated infrastructure for public use.”

It said the site has high quality foraging habitat for the endangered cockatoos, but no breeding trees.

However, given it was 9.5km from a confirmed breeding site, the area was deemed critical habitat for the birds and loss of that would risk further declines in breeding success and population size.

During three rounds of public consultation, the department received two submissions opposing the clearing.

In response, the City advised there were no feasible alternatives as the had been proposed for development and zoned urban for more than a decade.

Conditions include management plans for wind erosion, weeds and dieback as well as minimising clearing and fencing vegetation that will be retained.

The permit is open to public appeal until June 26 – visit www.der.wa.gov.au for more information.

Wanneroo Council was due to consider awarding a $7.65 million tender for part of the project at its May meeting, however the report was withdrawn because the clearing permit had not been granted.

The site bounded by Halesworth Parade, Santorini Promenade and the future rail line to Yanchep is adjacent to John Butler Primary College and an Alkimos high school that is under construction.

Carnaby’s cockatoos and banksia woodlands declining as habitats cleared

The permit said the overall population of endangered Carnaby’s cockatoos was declining due to loss and fragmentation of habitat through native vegetation clearing.

“Carnaby’s cockatoo was once abundant in WA,” it said.

“Since the late 1940s, the species has suffered a 30 per cent contraction in range, a 50 per cent decline in population, and between 1968 and 1990, disappeared from more than a third of its breeding range.

Basic ecological theory, expert opinion and recent evidence suggests that the remaining native and pine plantation foraging habitat on the Swan Coastal Plain is just sufficient to support the current population.

“Therefore any reduction in the amount of food source will result in a reduction in the carrying capacity of the region and therefore, a decline in the population of Carnaby’s cockatoo.”

It said the bird preferred remnant native eucalypt woodlands and shrubland, as well as forests, and foraged on seeds, flowers and nectar from proteacous plant species such as banksia, hakea and grevillea.

The permit said the Federal Government listed banksia woodlands found in the Perth and Dandaragan subregions as endangered under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2016.

It said the pre-European extent of the threatened ecological community was about 700,000ha but in 2015 the extend remaining had declined by 52 per cent to about 336,000 to 337,000ha, with 81,800ha protected in reserves.

“The ecological community provides habitat for many native plants and animals that rely on banksia woodlands for their homes and food,” it said.

“Remaining patches of the ecological community provide important wildlife corridors and refuges in a mostly fragmented landscape.”

Funding promised for playing fields