WETLANDS activists say they’re prepared to accept a limited amount of housing along the former route of Roe 8 if it will kill off the divisive highway.
Following Labor’s resounding victory at Saturday’s state election, premier-elect Mark McGowan confirmed he’d keep his promise and scrap the project, telling contractors not to bother turning up to work on Monday.
Celebrations were surprisingly muted along the route following Labor’s bulldozing of Colin Barnett’s Liberal government, which Fremantle councillor Rachel Pemberton says was partly due to concerns about further damage to the environment.
There has been some debate about limiting access to the site, with some activists wanting to concentrate on keeping weeds out and letting the bush regenerate itself, while others are itching for a more symbolic tree planting.
Kim Dravnieks, who with Nandi Chinna and Suzanne Smith, has been spearheading a plan to turn the route into a wildlife corridor between the Beeliar Wetlands and the ocean, says there’s already been encouraging signs of regrowth.
“We’ve already seen some bandicoots scratching around there this morning, so that’s encouraging,” Ms Dravniek says.
The recently incorporated group wants the wetlands themselves quarantined from housing, but believes there’s some scope for development on the route’s more degraded areas, such as around the Montessori school in Bibra Lake.
They’re hoping to convince the new government to make the developments highly sustainable and environmentally sensitive.
Ms Dravniek says they’ve already held community workshops and have had great support from Cockburn council.
She says the corridor would include natural bush, bike paths, walking trails, nature playgrounds, picnic areas and even an outdoor classroom.
Main Roads says its expecting “further clarity” about the highway reserve’s future once the Labor government is sworn in.
“In terms of site activity, no construction work is occurring, however Main roads and the Building Roe 8 Alliance will continue to monitor and maintain the site, carrying out dust suppression and traffic management processes as required,” the department said in a release to the Herald.
“We will also be conducting ground water monitoring on an ongoing basis as a condition fo the project’s environmental approval.
“As Roe 8 remains a potentially hazardous construction site, fencing will remain in place for the foreseeable future.”