Freeway threat to cockatoo habitat

According to documents out for public comment until next Tuesday, the preferred site in Cullalla is part of a privately owned 687ha property that Mains Roads would purchase.

‘The study area is a significant area of 686.58ha, which includes 682.73ha of remnant native vegetation in excellent condition and 3.58ha of highly modified habitat,’ a report prepared by environmental consultants GHD for Main Roads said.

‘The study area is located in close proximity to two conservation reserves ” Boonaring Nature Reserve (9.25ha), about 5km west, and Betts Nature Reserve (24.94ha), about 3.8km north.’

The report said the Department of Environment determined stage one of the Mitchell Freeway extension project was likely to have ‘a significant impact on the endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoo’.

‘This impact involves clearing 88.7ha of native vegetation that provides known and potential foraging, roosting and breeding habitat for Carnaby’s black cockatoo,’ it said.

Two GHD zoologists did a field survey of the area on foot in March and did not record any cockatoos in the area, but attributed that to being outside the breeding season, which lasts from late July and February.

‘While no Carnaby’s black cockatoos were observed using the habitat within the study area during the field survey, there was some scattered old evidence of foraging by the species,’ the report said.

It said there was about 87.22ha of potential breeding habitat in scattered marri and jarrah trees, as well as potential roosting habitat.

The zoologists did find 27 other bird species, six reptiles and three mammals in the area during their two-day field study.

‘Main Roads is currently undertaking the process of purchasing the study area, which will then be transferred to the Conservation Commission to allow it to be protected in perpetuity,’ the report said.

The freeway extension project includes three stages, with the first to build the extension Hester Avenue, plus connecting roadworks at Neerabup Road and Hester, between 2015 and 2017.

Stage two would involve a further extension to Romeo Road between 2017 and 2021.

The third stage would involve making Wanneroo Road a dual carriageway from Joondalup Drive to Hall Road, and making Connolly Drive a dual carriageway between 2027 and 2029.

‘The state Minister for Transport has only committed funding for the Mitchell Freeway extension from Burns Beach Road to Hester Avenue (stage one) and to complete the project by December 2017,’ the report said.

The two-week public comment period will close on June 24. More information is available at www.mainroads.wa.gov.au or at local libraries.