Yanchep rail clearing plans up for environmental review

Metronet rail extension to Yanchep.
Metronet rail extension to Yanchep.

PLANS to clear almost 73ha for the Metronet rail extension from Eglinton to Yanchep are out for public review ahead of an Environmental Protection Authority assessment.

The EPA has invited submissions until July 8 on the Public Transport Authority’s proposed 7.2km long development envelope for the second part of future rail line.

An environmental review document said the proposal ran through land reserved for railways, and would involve clearing 28.82ha of Bush Forever in the Ningana Bushland.

“The proposal will involve the removal of 61.68ha of remnant vegetation within a 72.86ha development envelope,” it said.

“The balance of the development envelope comprises highly disturbed and cleared areas.”

A Carnaby’s black cockatoo eating banksia. Picture: Gary Tate

It said endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos were present, with the development envelope containing 56.31ha of high and moderate habitat and 45 potential breeding trees.

“Carnaby’s cockatoo was observed in several small groups foraging and flying over the development envelope,” it said.

The document said about 77 per cent of the site provided suitable foraging habitat including 45 potential breeding trees.

“None of these trees were assessed to be suitable size to support breeding and did not contain evidence of being previously used for nesting,” it said.

“However, they are considered potential breeding trees as they may in future become large enough to contain features used for breeding, such as hollows.”

The document said the clearing was unlikely to have a significant impact on the endangered birds given foraging and breeding habitat nearby, but might increase the risk of bird deaths during removal of the habitat and therefore a management plan should be in place during construction.

The building envelope for the rail extension.

It said no flora listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act were recorded in the development envelope, however there was 8.03ha of banksia woodland threatened ecological community (TEC) within it, which was predominantly in very good to excellent condition.

The document said banksia woodlands were well represented and protected in conservation reserves nearby, including Yanchep National Park.

“Due to the fragmented nature of the vegetation and the extent of the TEC protected within close proximity to the proposed action, the proposed action is unlikely to adversely affect habitat critical to the survival of the ecological community,” it said.

About 30 per cent of the proposed development envelope runs through land reserved for railways under the Metropolitan Region Scheme, with 19 per cent in ‘parks and recreation’ and 40 per cent zoned ‘central city area’ or ‘urban’.

“In a planning context, provision for a railway in the northwest corridor has long existed in the MRS,” the document said.

“Since the Butler extension opened in 2014, urban development has continued in Butler and extended into adjacent suburbs to the north.

“Extension of the northern suburbs railway from Butler to new stations at Alkimos, Eglinton and Yanchep is now required to support these growth areas as part of the State Government’s Metronet vision.”

It said the development envelope was constrained by planning and approvals for surrounding land.

PTA looked at four options in 2018, with an at-grade construction along the referred alignment chosen because options for tunnels or bridges were “prohibitively expensive”.

Another option for at-grade construction on an alternative alignment had more favourable environmental outcomes but would have been more expensive and have unfavourable planning outcomes.

The design includes a shared path on one side of the track, and an access track on the other.

Following public consultation, the EPA will assess the proposal and make a recommendation, including conditions of approval, that will be subject to public appeal.

The Environment Minister will make the final decision.

EPA gave conditional approval for the first part of the rail extension from Butler to Eglinton in early May.

Visit www.epa.wa.gov.au .