A MELVILLE volunteer who transformed a weed-infested section of Bull Creek into a peaceful billabong has accused the local council of trashing it because officers are jealous of his achievements.
Gavin Waugh spent hundreds of hours stripping out a three-metre high wall of blackberries and papyrus that was choking the creek, then revegetating its banks with native plants.
He also made what he describes as a low weir across the creek so that enough water stays in the billabong to provide a habitat for a dragonfly that’s so rare no one’s sure if there are any left in the reserve.
But Mr Waugh says that shortly after he was photographed proudly showing off his achievements in the Herald, Melville council asked the Water Corporation to send in big machinery to undo his works.
“This could not be any clearer that it was a deliberate act of vexatious retribution,” Mr Waugh wrote to water minister Dave Kelly this week.
Mr Waugh has asked Mr Kelly to intervene and order Water Corp to negotiate over reinstating his rehabilitation works, saying the authority misled the minister by claiming his weir was a “dam” and that the natural watercourse needed to be reinstated to prevent flooding.
“The rehabilitation trashed was habitat designed to support [the giant western dragonfly] and both Water Corporation and [council] environmental co-ordinators should have known that fact before engaging in destroying endangered species habitat,” he wrote.
Mr Kelly had previously written back to Mr Waugh’s first letter of complaint noting the volunteer’s works had been unauthorised.
The animosity between the Bull Creek resident and the council stretches back to 2014 when Mr Waugh was sacked as a volunteer after he criticised the council for not following its environment policies.
But the council says it only ordered the work because Mr Waugh’s unauthorised work had caused plants upstream and downstream to die because of changed water levels.
Acting CEO Marten Tieleman said staff were employed for their qualifications and expertise and would not take decisions that weren’t in the best interests of the environment.
“If Mr Waugh believes he has credible evidence to the contrary, then it is open to him to take his evidence to the Public Sector Commission or to the Crime and Corruption Commission and allow due process as opposed to making such accusations,” Mr Tieleman said.
He said Water Corp had done its own assessment and came to the same conclusion as the council.
by STEVE GRANT