by Jonathon Davidson
A Kwongan Foundation report to City of Gosnells has slammed the latest approvals given for an industrial area development in Kenwick which threatens to destroy the Brixton Street Wetlands, a protected reserve omitted from original environmental impact assessments.
Dr Hans Lambers, founder of the Kwongan Foundation, has cited his disappointment with the EPA and City of Gosnells for overlooking degenerative impacts the industrial development will have on the unique wetlands, which will be partially encircled by the development.
At the centre of his frustration is the original approval for the development from the EPA which stated no EIA was necessary for the Brixton Street Wetlands despite its extreme proximity to the development.
EPA policy states all decisions are guided by research, but Dr Lambers believes the EPA is ignoring Department of Parks and Wildlife research conducted in 2000 which identified multiple at-risk species within the reserve.
“The EPA has already told us no further assessment is required so it was basically dismissed,” he said.
The Brixton Street Wetlands (BSW) is the most bio-diverse reserve in WA and makes up a chain of ‘Bush Forever Site’ reserves in the Kenwick area, which contain high counts of threatened species protected under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999).
A wide range of additional research conducted through UWA also identifies threatened flora within the reserve, as does a 1991 Homeswest consultative environmental review.
“So [the City of Gosnells] is saying well we don’t know what you’re talking about, we will just go on with the advice of the EPA…I think that response was rather disappointing.”
The Bounce contacted the City of Gosnells and the EPA for further comment but did not receive a response from either before deadline.
Dr Lambers believes the immediate threats are increased vehicular emissions, raised temperatures, increased litter and fire risk, industrial impact and the ongoing effects of an ageing artificial drain long interfering with soil moisture.
Among the threatened flora is one rare species of shrub which takes nutrients from limestone – a process that is not actually understood by current science, and which grows nowhere else in the world.
Trevor Drummond, co-founder of Friends of Brixton Street Wetlands, says that the reserve is far from thoroughly researched.
“My wife has been through that area [of research] about four or five years ago, and there’s certainly rare flora … in there,” he said.
“So there’s blatant disregard for stuff like that … I don’t think any studies have been done there for the groundwater, and that all needs to be considered.”
Additional concerns exist for foraging and roosting trees inhabited by Red Tail cockatoos, as well as more than twenty different kinds of carnivorous plant – more than what exist in all of Europe.
Dr Lambers is disheartened the EPA did not identify the unique and federally protected reserve which borders the development as at-risk.
“We’re sacrificing something extremely special… for research, and its own beauty, and its ethical value – it will be gone forever,” he said.
The EPA originally approved development plans from the City of Gosnells, despite the fact that the BSW were not involved in the mandatory environmental impact assessment, which was conducted before official plans were announced.
A stretch of road and a chain link fence is the only buffer zone between the industrial area and the wetlands, which Dr Lambers says is unacceptable.
Despite receiving a number of dissenting submissions from the public, the WAPC approved the preliminary amendment, which re-zones adjacent land from ‘rural’ to ‘industrial’.
The Maddington-Kenwick Strategic Employment Area is a development under the Metropolitan Region Scheme, and also incorporates a number of housing developments.
In a written response, the West Australian Planning Commission told The Bounce that the development of a buffer zone to protect the Brixton Street Wetlands would be a part of later planning considerations.