Chinese firm loses WA land clearing appeal

Yakka Munga Station.  Picture: Supplied
Yakka Munga Station. Picture: Supplied

A CHINESE company’s appeal against a stop-work order amid suspicions it illegally cleared land at a pastoral station in Western Australia’s north has been largely dismissed.

Zenith Australia Investment Holding, a division of Shanghai CRED, was in June ordered to stop clearing vegetation at Yakka Munga Station in the West Kimberley after native title group Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation complained.

WAC chairman Wayne Bergmann said traditional owners were shocked to find massive irrigation trenches had been dug up, causing significant damage to important flora, including boab trees ripped out of the ground.

The company had disregarded the binding terms of a land use agreement by undertaking major work without consulting native title holders, showing a lack of “basic decency and respect”, Mr Bergmann recently told AAP.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation says about 120 hectares of land has been cleared without authorisation.

Appeals Convenor Emma Gaunt has only recommended amending the vegetation conservation notice to include reference that up to five hectares of the cleared area may be exempt.

Ms Gaunt otherwise dismissed Zenith’s appeal, saying “there is a reasonable basis to suspect unlawful clearing”.