THE rapidly cooling WA economy presents the Barnett government with an opportunity to protect sensitive Cockburn wetlands, says Melissa Parke.
The retiring federal Fremantle Labor MP says there is little need for as much land as the government wants, meaning the footprint of the Latitude 32 industrial estate can be restricted without impacting economic growth.
Ms Parke this week sent a submission to state cabinet calling for the preservation of existing rural areas in Munster, Beeliar and Wattleup.
The regions had been pencilled in for “industrial investigation” as part of the government’s Peel Green Growth Plan, a move which caught Cockburn council on the hop, as none of its plans for those areas involved industrial development.
Ms Parke says all previous plans had earmarked the regions as buffer zones between industry and environmental and residential areas.
“There is no need to expand the Latitude 32 industrial zone,” Ms Parke wrote. “This area was resumed 15 years ago for industrial development at a cost of $164 million but remains largely undeveloped and plans for developing associated freight and port facilities remain, at best, unsettled.
“The environmental value of the Thomson Lake wetland and the protective buffer that the adjacent private bushland properties provide to the lake and urban residential estates is clear and cannot be overstated.”
Ms Parke noted landowners had been forbidden from clearing their blocks without hard-to-obtain approval.
Thomsons Lake is listed as an internationally-important wetland as it’s a stopover for several species of migratory birds.
The federal environment department is also investigating whether banksia woodlands, which cover most of the area in question, should be upgraded to endangered.
A draft report it’s working to recommends the upgrade, saying land clearing had resulted in a severe decline in 67 per cent of the local woodlands. The report says ongoing threats include mining, climate change, dieback, the decline of pollinating and seed-dispersing fauna, as well as several others.
LandCorp, which is developing Latitude 32, says it’s working with the WA planning department to speed up structure planning and approvals.
Chief operations officer Dean Mudford disputes Ms Parke’s estimate of the development’s cost, saying so far on $64m has been spent. He says 60 per cent of Latitude 32’s first release is sold (faster than Canning Vale’s upon release), bringing in businesses such as Southern Steel and Atco. But he concedes the GFC and the more recent domestic downturn have put it behind.
“The structure plan for development area 3, which cover 311 hectares, was approved in October 2015 and landowners within this precinct are already extracting sand and limestone,” Mr Mudford said.
He says another three areas will have work towards structure plans underway this year, and the lot will be ready for build-out by the end of next year.
Noting 85 per cent of the land is privately owned, he says when fully developed Latitude 32 will be part of what is being called the “Western Trade Coast” which is expected to employ more than 22,000 and contribute $28 billion to WA economy’s annually.
by STEVE GRANT