WORKERS will start removing asbestos, spraying weeds and removing piles of mulch along the now-defunct Roe 8 highway extension this coming week.
On Monday the McGowan government launched the Rehabilitating Roe 8 working group, with new Bicton MLA Lisa O’Malley as chair, to oversee the works.
Ms O’Malley told the Herald funding would come from existing contracts.
She said the working group had asked for independent monitoring of the asbestos removal following concerns not enough care was taken to protect residents and workers during the initial bulldozing.
“The City of Cockburn have come on board to make sure that it’s all removed according to the regulations,” Ms O’Malley said.
“The asbestos will be removed by hand, so no vehicles will be on-site.”
She said rehabilitation experts had decided mulching the site would stifle the regrowth of native vegetation as much as weeds, so the dozens of piles along the route will be removed.
The working group includes representatives from the transport and environment ministers, Cockburn council, the Conservation Council of WA, Community Wildlife Corridor, Aboriginal custodians, Cockburn Wetlands Centre, and the departments of parks and wildlife, EPA and main roads, as well as the Building Roe 8 Alliance.
Conspicuously absent is the Aboriginal affairs department, which caused great controversy by deleting sites within the Roe route from its heritage register and reversing a decision of one of its committee not to support the highway.
When the Chook asked why it hadn’t been included, Ms O’Malley looked uncomfortable and didn’t answer, while traditional owners’ representative Gail Beck seemed to sum up the mood: “Don’t talk about them,” she muttered.
Ms Beck said they’re keen to get archeological digs happening along the route before serious rehabilitation begins.
Ms O’Malley says the rehabilitation plan is still being worked out, but the WA Biodiversity Scientific Institute, which is funded by the premier’s office, would be involved.
“That will mean the collaboration of some 20 to 30 scientists; this could become a blue-print for other regeneration projects,” Ms O’Malley said, adding it was rare to get a project of this size to study.
Community Wildlife Corridor co-convenor Kim Dravnieks says the group’s aware locals are twitching to get rehabilitating, so they’ve organised a planting day on Sunday June 18 at Horse Paddock Swamp.
Ms O’Malley said the area, along Hope Road, was chosen because it wouldn’t affect Aboriginal sites and was cleared of asbestos contamination.
Meanwhile Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt has welcomed an approach from planning minister Rita Saffioti to work together on a new solution to the intersection of Stirling Highway and High Streets. Ms Saffioti said the government was keen to work with the city on how to spend $118 million the Turnbull government had allocated to the intersection.
by STEVE GRANT