PROTESTORS have had another partial win in the Beeliar wetlands, with Main Roads agreeing to modify the Murdoch Drive link to spare a stand of eucalypts.
Earlier this week a young activist spent three days camped on a platform in one of the trees after groups involved in the campaign against Roe 8 discovered Main Roads’ plans to clear a parcel of land west of Bibra Drive so it could be connected to Murdoch Drive.
Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor spokesperson Christine Duckham said the plan was a clear breach of the McGowan government’s promise to protect all wetlands west of Bibra Drive in a nature reserve.
Ms Duckham said the clearing had come as a surprise to her group, as it hadn’t been shown in earlier maps.
“They are different from the ones agreed upon by the Murdoch Drive Connection reference group,” Ms Duckham said.
“[Environment minister] Stephen Dawson didn’t know until last week, so no one had seen these new plans. This is a shock.”
Despite Main Roads’ partial backdown – three small paperbarks and a palm tree will still go – Ms Duckham says any encroachment west of Bibra Lake feels like “a death from a thousand cuts”.
She says the group holds grave concerns about dewatering so close to the wetlands, fearing they may be adversely affected and therefore tempting for future governments to consider developing.
But Main Roads spokesperson Dean Roberts says the clearing is necessary to provide access from Bibra Drive to the Murdoch Drive connection.
“The works have a marginal impact on the Roe Swamp wetland boundary and the area in question is contained within the footprint of the project’s environmental approval,” Mr Roberts said.
He noted Main Roads had done what it could following the tree-sit and a protest of about 30 people on Tuesday afternoon.
“We can confirm that the Metropolitan Road Improvement Alliance subsequently reviewed the road design to increase an incline in the road leading to the roundabout, allowing the batter to commence north of the tree line,” Mr Roberts said. “This creates a slightly steeper incline for the road user, but balances the community desire to retain trees.”
Tree-sitter Sarah Ward, breaking a previous decision not to scale trees because of a little height nervousness, posted updates on the Wetlands Defenders’ Facebook site during her protest.
“Probably the worst part of the scenery, though, is this nonsense across the road,” Ms Ward said.
“It’s sort of a compromise for dropping the Perth Freight Link and Roe 8 in particular, but it is essentially a piece of Roe 8.
“There was some bush from here over to the freeway; there were some areas that weren’t bushy and could have been used for something else, but definitely some really important banksia woodland over that side has been destroyed as well.”
by STEVE GRANT